Alternative Rock

New album: It Thing || Syrup

The 9-song debut (mini)LP by Hobart (Australia) four-piece It Thing is titled Syrup. Don’t let the title set you on the wrong foot, the music of It Thing poses no danger to your dental health. Rather, the band plays an explosive mixture of styles that ranges from modern indie punk, to ’80s punk and new wave and ’90s alternative rock.

It Thing distantly reminds me of A Giant Dog. Sonically, but also because It Thing singer Charlotte Gigi, like A Giant Dog’s Sabrina Ellis, is a force of nature that takes this kind of music to another level. And like A giant Dog, It Thing is full of cool attitude and swagger.

Syrup is out now on Marthouse Records. It is a powerful and highly energetic record, with memorable hooks. With this band and Rabbit, rock-‘n’-roll clearly is alive and kicking in Hobart.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: Gun Control || Gun Control

Again, I quickly jumped to conclusions. I fully expected Gun Control to be an American band. Of course, because gun control is such a major theme in the US, but also because the band’s sound seems heavily influenced by American alternative music. Gun Control are from Sweden though, Stockholm to be precise

Gun Control describe their sound as sad dad rock, but rather than classic rock or slowcore or emo, the band relies strongly on distorted guitars. Combined with an emotional edge, Gun Control kinda sounds like the more melodic and mellow side of Boy Sets Fire. Silver Screens is the standout track for me.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

Gimme 5! Ryan Hamilton Shares 5 Albums That Influenced ‘1221’

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.

When I ordered Ryan Hamilton‘s solo debut album Hell Of A Day (2015) at the time, he wrote a personal thank you note, which shows how sympathetic this guy is. Since then, the Texan singer-songwriter has been continuously releasing new music, with a new LP every year: The Devil’s In The Detail ‎ (2017) and Traitors Club Year 1 (2018) by Ryan Hamilton & The Traitors, and This Is The Sound (2019) and Nowhere To Go But Everywhere (2020) by Ryan Hamilton And The Harlequin Ghosts. Little Steven heard it right (again): this is a cool musician who creates cool songs, an artist that deserves a cool label and more appreciation. During 2021, when touring was not possible due to the pandemic, Ryan has been releasing a new single the 12th of each month via Wicked Cool, for his project 1221. They include originals of his own as well as some covers, including The Refreshments’ Banditos.

The 2021 standalone singles will be bundled as one full album, titled 1221. Prior to its release this Friday, we asked Ryan about his sources of inspiration for all those great songs, and he was kind enough to answer in detail. His choices make perfect sense if you are familiar with his sound, but they give a new dimension to listening with his explanations.

New album: Jim Lindberg || Songs from the Elkhorn Trail

What is it with experienced punk rockers who go solo and turn the volume down a bit? Actually, the result is almost always satisfying, because when they don’t hide behind a wall of noise, you really hear how good their melodies, playing and vocals are. That certainly applies to singer / songwriter Jim Lindberg, who with Pennywise has provided skate punks their soundtrack for the last 30 years. On his acoustic solo debut album Songs From The Elkhorn Trail he lets out a different sound, quiet and intimate. It feels very fitting to his more personal lyrics – about his life story, family and friends, loneliness and alienation, memories of his late father. Although the 12 original songs are not necessarily cheerful, musically they are certainly not depressed – the tracks radiate hope and understanding, as if a good friend puts an arm around you in comfort. Satisfying.

“Hello, goodbye, hello again // Loneliness, you are my only friend // It’s just you and me inside my head”

The album is produced and mixed by Tedd Hutt (Gaslight Anthem, Lucero, Dropkick Murphy’s), and features David Hidalgo Jr. (Social Distortion) on drums, Joe Gittleman (The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Avoid One Thing) on ​​bass, and Marc Orrell (The Dropkick Murphy’s, The Walker Roaders) on guitar and keys. Connor Vance (cello, viola, violin) and Glen Marhevka (trumpet) make valuable contributions. The album title and Bob Dob’s cover artwork reflect the fact that many of the songs were written at Jim’s father’s Palm Desert rental house near the Elkhorn Trail.

Songs From The Elkhorn Trail is out now digitally, and May 6 (2022) on CD and vinyl LP, via Epitaph.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Epitaph

New album: Jr. Gone Wild || Still Got The Jacket

Between 1983 and 1995, Canadian alternative country band Jr. Gone Wild was successful with five albums and countless epic live shows, combining folk and rock with a punk attitude. Over 25 years later, original members Mike McDonald (guitars, vocals), Steve Loree (lead guitar) and Dave “Dove” Brown (bass) have reunited, with McDonald’s nephew Quinton Herbert on drums (he’s replacing drummer Larry Shelast, who passed away in 2019). On their new double LP Still Got The Jacket, on which they pick up where they left off. The 16(!) new tracks are energetic, uplifting and danceable, a stunning mix of twangy rock, melodic country-punk and glorious power pop. Original tracks like Old and Ugly and Barricades are new classics, the cover of Chilliwack’s Fly At Night (featuring Chilliwack founder Bill Hendersen) is telling – “Four men in a rock ‘n’ roll band // Fly at night, in the morning we country” – and fits in well. You can hear the chemistry between skilled musicians, the hard-earned experience, and the joy of playing in everything. The band name may seem a bit strange in 2021 – time has not stood still (that also applies to the girl in the crowd) – but the four men not only still have their leather jackets, but also still play with the fire that characterized their performances back in the day. If this is what alt-country means, Jr. Gone Wild should continue like this.

Still Got The Jacket is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl 2LP through Stony Plain Records / (weewerk) Recordings.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New album: The Reytons || Kids off the Estate

UK indie rock band The Reytons – vocalist Jonny Yerrell (vocals), lead guitarist Joe O’Brien, bassist Lee Holland, and drummer Jamie Simpson – spent five years working towards the release of their debut album Kids Off The Estate. The bumpy journey to this moment can be seen in the documentary Becoming The Reytons on YouTube. Look where they are now – goosebumps all over when you hear a full house roar the lyrics of title track KOTE: “You don’t have to hate // The kids off the estate // Mates after a fate // And they called them Reytons” – an anthem for everyone who knows what it’s like to hang out on the street. The LP has 13 other infectious guitar rockers – we already knew a number of them from their previous EPs – that will do well everywhere (on the car radio, from your speakers at home, in the concert halls, etc.). The sound is reminiscent of hits that you often heard 15 years ago (Arctic Monkeys, Kaiser Chiefs, Courteeners, Dirty Pretty Things, etc.), hits like they are no longer made. The band members will never deny South Yorkshire’s working class, but let’s face it: with such great songs and such a convincing stage presence, they’ll be away from home a lot, to conquer the rest of the world. The Reytons are the ‘right ones’ to get that job done.

Kids off the Estate is out now on CD, cassette and vinyl LP through Scruff Of The Neck.

Add to wantlist: Discogs || The Reytons Shop || Scruff Of The Neck

New album: The Feeders || Kerchoo

Here is a new release that brings me an equal amount of excitement and melancholy. Kerchoo is the debut full-length of The Feeders, featuring Chicago scene veterans Sam Vicari, Eli Caterer (Smoking Popes) and John Perrin (NRBQ). The sense of melancholy hit me immediately. It’s hard not to think of the late Kim Shattuck while listening to Kerchoo. But that sense of melancholy quickly makes room for excitement, because Kerchoo is so much more than a throwback to the Muffs. The altpop of the Feeders is catchy and punchy, a bit like Superchunk channeling Teenage Fanclub, or Superchunk playing good Weezer songs.

Shoutout to music writers who’ve already submitted their AOTY lists. You are missing out on this one. Quite the year for Eccentric Pop, who brought us the new Dan Vapid And The Cheats this week, and earlier this year that awesome Evening Shadows record.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Eccentric Pop

New album: James Sullivan || Light Years

The Stardumb Records logo essentially operates as a green light for blind purchases. If Stefan Stardumb decides to put out a record, you know it’s gonna be good. But whereas Stardumb once was home primarily to pop punk and ramonescore bands, in recent years we’ve seen the label broaden its horizons somewhat, for example with Local Drags, Lone Wolf and the most recent Geoff Palmer record. Stardumb’s latest addition probably is furthest yet from the typical Stardumb sound. James Sullivan’s debut LP Light Years is closer to Velvet Underground, Guided By Voices, and Paul Westerberg than to Groovie Ghoulies or the Apers.

James Sullivan is the frontman and guitar player of two excellent powerpop outfits (More Kicks and Suspect Parts). To get himself going in the pandemic, he decided to set himself the goals of writing a song a day for ten days. He then recorded the songs at home in North Londona on his half-broken Tascam 8-track. Rather than choosing a specific direction for the songs, he took the opportunity to try out different styles. The result is a diverse record that’s decidedly different than Sullivan’s past work, while still showcasing his great songwriting skills.

Album opener Lea Bridge is one of the albums highlights. I love how Sullivan talksings with a heavy accent over a steady beat and a cool guitar riff. The gorgeous punkrock ballad You Kept My Heart Alive is another standout and may be my favorite track on the record. But rather than talking about individual tracks, Light Years works really well as an album. I really like the flow of the record. A significant proportion of the record is mellow, but I’m never skipping any of the songs. Sullivan draws you in from the opening seconds and will leave you content after each play of Light Years.

Light Years has a Stardumb Records logo on it. It’s out now. What are you waiting for? Buy it!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Stardumb Records || Discogs

New album: The Lethargics || Rough South Short Stories

February 10, 2021: The Lethargics released their debut album Maladies & Melodies, which features 13 pretty good songs. March 20, 2021: The Lethargics released their sophomore album Hue & Cry, which features 12 pretty good songs. September 15, 2021: The Lethargics released their third album Rough South Short Stories, which features 13 pretty good songs. (Between March and September there were some non-album singles, also pretty good.) How do they do that? I asked the band’s songwriter Darrel Mendenhall: “We feel like we’ve got a story to tell. We try to shine light on tales and characters that haven’t been pushed to the margins so much as they have been shoved right off the page. We are Hillbillies, and we have all the rage and shame that comes with that. Our message is that we may be Waste People – but we are still people!”

It’s obvious: The Lethargics are not just any American rock band. They hail from the hard beauty of the hills and hollers of the Appalachian Mountains, near Knoxville, Tennessee, steeped in the histories and mysteries of rock, blues, punk, country, folk, and Americana. You can tell by their sparkling guitar-driven music, which is authentic, unflinching, passionate and brooding, with brutally honest songwriting. They call Rough South Short Stories – a telling title – the record they were born to make. It’s folky blues (or bluesy folk), with intensely sung lyrics about real life, love and loss, emotional lyrics that evoke rich images. In my opinion, it’s a record that is meant to be heard in the rest of the world.

Before you know it, there will be new work after the aforementioned trilogy, which I’ve been enjoying a lot lately: “Three albums in a year – I guess that’s mostly a product of not knowing how to do anything else and not having anywhere else to go. Heck, we may get another one out before the end of the year!”

Rough South Short Stories is out now digitally. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Jackson+Sellers || Breaking Point

Nashville singer-songwriters Aubrie Sellers and Jade Jackson were both artists in their own right, but social media contact during the pandemic led to a 1+1=3 collaboration. Their debut album Breaking Point, out now on ANTI- Records, contains ten folky rock songs, both dreamy Americana ballads and twangy riff driven tunes to dance to. Jackson (acoustic guitar) and Sellers (mellotron, bebot) share sultry vocal duties – their voices match very well – and their alliance sounds and looks like they’ve been friends for a lifetime, even though they’ve only known each other for a year. Both musicians contributed songs they had previously written, and there is one song they wrote together: Wound Up. In addition, there are two awesome covers that they completely have made their own: a flaming version of Julie Miller’s The Devil Is An Angel and an exciting reinterpretation of Suzi Quatro’s The Wild One. Jackson+Sellers, as their joint project is called, are reinforced by Ethan Ballinger (guitars, synth, keys), Matty Alger (drums, percussion, synth, bells), and Rich Brinsfield (bass). Watch and wonder: “You look at me so tender // But I wonder if there lies // Something dark and sinister behind those innocent eyes.”


Add to wantlist: ANTI- || Bandcamp

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