Alternative Rock

New album: Midwestern Medicine || The Gold Baton

Midwestern Medicine are not an easy band to put a label on. Sure, they are from Portland (Maine) and they have the classic indie rock line up of drums, guitars and bass with the addition of keys, banjo and piano. But sonically, the band is all over the guitar landscape. Their new record The Gold Baton is at times punchy and rockin’, at times hushed and full of introspection, at times Jets To Brazil and Promise Ringesque emo-rock, then switching to country and Americana influences, before moving into ’90s college rock and alt pop. The diversity is what I like most about the record. Like an octopus changing colors amidst different backdrops, Midwestern Medicine pulls off genrebending songwriting in any direction their mood takes them. It’s a major part of the appeal of The Gold Baton and makes for a fun record to explore. Want to find out more? Read this track-by-track guide at New Noise Magazine and check out the band’s playlist of recommended listens.

The Gold Baton is out now on LP.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New single: Meltheads || Na​ï​ef

Meltheads are a dangerous garage rock / (post-)punk band from Antwerp, who are rightly seen as one of the biggest promises in the Belgian music scene due to their first singles (check out the videos for Disco of L’Amore, Sweet Monica and I Wanna Be A Girl), but even more so because of their intense live shows. On their new single Na​ï​ef, the heavy rhythm section of Yunas de Proost (guitar), Tim Pensaert (bass) and Simon de Geus (drums) slows down the tempo a bit, and front man Sietse Willems doesn’t sing in English this time. Yet it’s probably their most powerful, urgent, furious and impressive achievement to date. The lyrics are in Dutch/Flemish, but even if you don’t understand them, you probably still feel the message (translated): “I don’t believe in nonsense // I’m not naive // Fight with me // I’m not naive.” An instant classic.

The Naïef EP, featuring four different versions of the track, is out now digitally on vinyl 12″ single through Mayway Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

Dusted || The 10 Best Cover Songs Of September 2022

Not all new music is really new, as many artists cover songs. Sometimes these are songs by their favorite artists, eg as a tribute to such a musical hero for a special reason, or they simply feel that a song deserves to be dusted and polished to reacquaint fans with great songs from the past. Other times, bands cover songs as a parody. Regardless of intent, some of those cover versions are so good or so much fun, we’d like to put a spotlight on them. Chosen from a wide range, here are – in random order – ten of our favorite covers from last month – links to the pages where you can add them to your wantlist included.

In September we heard Rita Wilson’s Now & Forever cover LP featuring duets with Willie Nelson, Smokey Robinson, Elvis Costello and other big names, Aquarium Drunkard’s Lagniappe SuperSession featuring 33 artists interpreting the music of James Toth (Wooden Wand), Geoff Palmer’s version of Dee Dee Ramone’s Standing In The Spotlight album, the 15-track Sea Creatures compilation as a homage to the songwriting of Jeffrey Lewis, a sponsored Old Man cover by Beck that Neil Young was unhappy with, and previously we wrote about releases from Herman Hitson, Hayley And The Crushers, Crocodile Tears, Dangüs Tarküs and The Manges with some successful cover versions. We actually saw too many other cover versions come along, most of which were slow and subdued – apparently fall has has caught up with music too. Below is a selection of songs that haven’t yet received the attention they deserve.

I Just Wanted To See You So Bad || Cover: Quivers || Original: Lucinda Williams
On the flip side of their new single If Only, Melbourne four-piece Quivers cover a hidden gem of Lucinda Williams’ 1989 self-titled LP, sung by Bella Quinlan: “It felt so good to have a bit of a shouted call and response.” Out on red colored vinyl 7″ through Ba Da Bing!.

New album: The Big Peach || Observations

We often write about raw and raucous garage rock releases, but sometimes cool things happen on the poppy side of the genre too. On Observations, the new full-length album by feel-good rock ‘n’ roll outfit The Big Peach, you can hear ten excellent examples of this. The UK five-piece build on the better British pop, rock, beat and glam of the 60s and early 70s, but every time you think you recognize a melody or riff, the musicians give it an original spin. Anyway, here are ten entertaining, catchy and uplifting rock ‘n’ roll tunes with a good backbeat and great harmony vocals. Fifty years ago these would have been hits, for us they will be in 2022 too. File under: pub rock that makes you happy.

Observations, produced by Borja Regueira, is out now digitally and on vinyl LP through Sour Grapes Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Lee Baggett || Anyway

A year after his “long-awaited, long-lost” Just A Minute LP, American singer-songwriter Lee Baggett (aka Lee Gull) is back with a new full-length album called Anyway. The ten new songs of the seasoned musician – performing and recording since the 1980s – are more outspoken and more diverse than his previous output (and luckily still a bit shaky), making this a captivating listening experience. At times you might think Strange Boys are covering the Stones (lead single Fruit Dog) or that you hear a rare country classic (the swaying Highway Roll), but more often it has laid-back vibes like Kurt Vile is sending out into the world. Lee Baggett (vocals, guitar, piano) is backed by Zeb Zaitz (drums), Sam Farrell (bass guitar), Nick Aives (electric guitar, banjo), Cory Gray (keyboards, piano, trumpet), Bob Thayer (acoustic guitar, harmonica), Sterling Schlegel (acoustic guitar, mandolin) and Wiley Laufman (acoustic guitar), together they have made a timeless indie folk rock / cosmic country record, melancholic, honest and atmospheric.

Anyway is out now digitally, on cassette and vinyl LP through Perpetual Doom.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs || Perpetual Doom

PS  Lee Baggett also just made a notable contribution to The Lagniappe Sessions, covering Def Leppard, English Beat and Van Halen.

New album: Glossy Clouds || Mess and Mania

Glossy Clouds is the arty music project of Jérôme Bralet and Hugo Merle from Lyon, France, convincingly assisted by three female guest vocalists. They just released their full-length debut album Mess and Mania, they also made a video for all the songs. After several spins I’m still not sure this band fits our blog, but I can say it’s pretty good. The duo cites Arctic Monkeys, Queens Of The Stone Age and Pink Floyd as influences, but I think we should also mention Arcade Fire and Talking Heads: “We have this soul and gospel side to us. We really love to make groovy rock (…) and want to create a sexy glam atmosphere.” I hear funky pop music injected with post-punk influences – colorful, danceable and catchy – although a few tracks, like My Devil, are indeed a lot heavier then the hit songs here, like She’s Borderline. An ambitious, versatile and successful debut LP.

Mess and Mania is out now on all streaming services and on CD through KWS Blank Canvas Music. Add to wantlist: HMV

Gimme 5! Neil Evans Shares 5 Albums That Have Impacted Parallel Bars

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

It’s exactly one year ago that I stumbled upon Parallel Bars, an “irreverent and irrelevant” solo project by American artist Neil Evans. I really liked his album Malaise, which reminded me somewhat of bands that combined rock and rap-like vocals 20-30 years ago, but seasoned with emo, punk, and ska influences (for example, listen to the earworm I Like What I Like). Today he releases his new full-length album, What Are You Doing?, a question the musician probably asks himself. The opening tune with the telling title Too Young To Quit, Too Old To Care reflects his attitude:  “Another dumb song you can roll your eyes at // Another dive in my mind for the panic attacks.” Obviously, Neil Evans is far too modest (or unjustly insecure about his qualities). The ten fresh Parallel Bars songs pick up where the ten previous ones left off, although the sound focuses more unequivocally on light-hearted emo rock, with relatable contemporary lyrics. Very likeable.

Neil previously indicated that he’s influenced by just about anything with great melody, lyrics, energy, and riffs, but I didn’t expect the albums he chooses below. Hold on tight for a surprising and eclectic episode of our Gimme 5! feature, with a wonderful insight into the soul of a musician who should receive more appreciation – from the audience, but also from himself.

New EP: The Pagans S.O.H || Emergence Of Forgotten Power

Last spring The Pagans S.O.H released “prequel EP” Le Coq, which impressed us quite a bit. The eclectic UK four-piece are now back with their then announced EP The Emergence Of Forgotten Power, effectively keeping the crossover sound of rock and rap (and more) alive. This four-song record contains the title track which already was put out earlier this year, and brand new studio versions of live favorites Pause, Come Down To Reality and Black Jesus. A little less crazy than their previous effort, but just as energetic, smart and fresh, and even more catchy and probably with more hit-potential. Truly original but above all excitingly appealing.

The Emergence Of Forgotten Power EP is out now digitally, on CD and 8″ lathe cut clear vinyl through Rare Vitamin Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Various Artists || Sea Creatures Stared at Us and We Stared Back at Them

A cynic may argue it is utter madness to start a record label in 2022. A romantic would see it as prove that there will always be passionate musicians and fans of music crazy enough to spent their most valuable resource (i.e., time) on putting out and promoting the music of others. That romantic may have thought about starting a label as well, but scared to take the plunge.

Count us among the romantics. Hence, it’s been a joy to witness the birth of Wilbur & Moore, a label started by two Dutch friends (Joep & Bas) who live 10.000 miles apart but share a love for experimental indie music. Early on, it was clear that the label had the looks – the art direction by Bas van Genugten is pretty great. And now we finally have a first impression of the sound direction. Or perhaps not, since the label’s debut release is an eclectic selection of artists covering the music of Jeffrey Lewis. The comp contains lo-fi rockers, anti-folk, slacker pop and stripped down acoustic tracks and everything in between. The comp is all over the place really, and if there is a commonality among the songs it is (a) the home recording vibe (b) the heart and soul the artists have put in their renditions. Indie rock, underground pop and alternative music seem to be points of departure for Wilbur & Moore, no hard borders or boundaries.

Sea Creatures Stared at Us and We Stared Back at Them is a bold start by Wilbur & Moore. Like the best tribute compilations it offers a lot to discover and makes you want to check out many of the artists featured – and revisit the orginals, for which the label made this convenient playlist. Below are some of my favorites. Press play and, if you are curious, read more about the label’s backstory here.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Mythical Motors & Antlered Auntlord || Split

Earlier this year, prolific jangly underground rocksters Mythical Motors (Chattanooga, Tennessee) had recorded yet another set of songs. For reasons of convenience and timing, HHBTM Records decided to pair the ten songs on a tape with ten songs by another act: Antlered Auntlord, a solo project by Jesse Stinnard (Athens, Georgia).

The Mythical Motors side is full of the delightful lo-fi underground pop and indie rock we’ve come to love about the band. It’s a loose and spontaneous blend of The Clean, Guided By Voices, Television Personalities, Wire, R.E.M, Superchunk, and the C-86 scene. Mythical Motors songs in general are concise and full of sweet and catchy melodies and their side of the tape contains several gems (The Instant Forever, Orchestra Pit Of Flames, Nebulous Heaven, and Circling Elaine). Like the Mythical Motors side, the Antlered Auntlord side offers ten concise songs but there are noticable difference in sound. Most obviously, Antlered Auntlord has a more punchy and noisy sound with more ’90s alternative influences as well. In discussing a previous release, HHBTM describes the act as “the missing link between the Pixies and The Byrds if they’d been raised in the Appalachians.” I quite like that, and that also applies to the songs on this side.

HHBTM made 150 tapes of this release. Is it worth the purchase? You bet!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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