Alternative Rock

New album: Mary Anne’s Polar Rig || Makes You Happy

Are you ready for some fuzzy alternative slacker rock from Sweden? Make sure to check out the debut by Mary Anne’s Polar Rig. It’s called Makes Me Happy and it is kind of a mess, and I mean that as a compliment. It’s a chaotic record, with a lot going on. The band immediately draws you in with album opener Something About Your Way. It is short, fast and catchy. It is followed by Your House, which starts tenderly before erupting in an infectious chorus. It is not the only track where the band effectively uses soft loud dynamics. Liar Liar for example, another standout track, starts with an thunderous bass riff and ends explosively, but also has a quiet yet intense interlude where singer Malin Hofvander wails “i want to feel sexy || i want to feel sure || i don’t want to be rejected || i want to be adored”. Hofvander’s voice gives Makes You Happy an edge, but ultimately Mary Anne’s Polar Rig sounds like a well oiled collective. This is quite the debut. Out now on Please Like it & Feverish. RIYL: Evans The Death and Joanna Gruesome.


Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

GIMME 5! || Rob Nesbitt (The Suitesixteen) Shares 5 Monumentally Important Albums That Deserve Another Look

(Photo by Wendy Nesbitt)

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.

We started Gimme 5! out of curiosity and a desire to discover must-own records. We’ve been amazed by the lists so far. In addition to the picks, the best part of the feature has been the artists’ introductions and explanations. It’s a thrill to see artists share their passion and love for the music that inspired them. In fact, when the artist of this week’s Gimme 5! sent me his list, I literally got goosebumps from reading his words. I am talking about Rob Nesbitt. Rob played on the first BUM album Wanna Smash Sensation – an early nineties somewhat overlooked powerpop/pop punk classic. He then quit the band and spent the next 25 (!) years working on a Suitesixteen record. It came out last year, and it’s perfect. It is available in a custom triple gatefold, double vinyl package with a 50-page book and beautiful photography.

Rob’s list includes 5 records that were “monumentally important to him and perhaps overlooked.” Click below to read and listen. Rob wrote an extensive introduction to his list and explanations for each pick. He apologizes for it being long, but if you are like me, at the end of the post he leaves you wanting more. Thanks a lot for your generosity, Rob!

New EP: Vera Bloom || Vera Bloom

“Tonight’s a good night for making bad decisions,” Vera Bloom sings on the standout track of her self-titled EP, before adding some well-timed “uh huh’s.” Both lyrically and musically, the track feels like a straight-up tribute to the glampunkrock of the Donnas. The rest of the EP sounds completely different. On her EP, Vera Bloom goes from powerballads (Breathe, Love Like Knives), to ’90’s alternative rock (Sharp Shooter), and indie rock (Blue, my 2nd favorite track on the EP). I guess this mix of styles won’t be for everyone, but I am adding Vera Bloom to my artists to watch.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New compilation: Various Artists || Fakes

I’ve always had a weak spot for cover compilations, particularly when the originals are classics and the recreations sound faster, angrier of weirder. So thank you, Drunk Dial Records for asking some of today’s best punk and garage acts to cover their favorite song of fictional artists from movies and tv shows. The result is a highly entertaining compilation. What about Pavid Vermin covering The Beets from ’90’s cartoon Doug? Or Jiffy Marx & kcar doing a delightfully weird version of Sugar Sugar? Or Berwanger doing Welcome to the Dollhouse? What about Careful making this Mitch & Mickey song actually sound good? And bless Charlie Continental for changing Wet Wet Wet’s Love is all Around into Covid’s All Around (“there was a start, there will be an end”). Though I hope this will ultimately get a physical release, it’s currently digital only. There are worse ways to spend $5. And if you need any further encouragement, all proceeds will be divided between the bands and four charities.


Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

GIMME 5! || Scott Davis (Virginia Trance) Shares 5 Records To Listen To in 2021

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.

We are absolutely thrilled to present this week’s curator of Gimme 5!: Scott Davis. Scott is the main man behind Virginia Trance, who released Vincent’s Playlist last year – Niek’s favorite indiepop record of 2020. Scott also played in the psychelic rock band Psychic Ill’s. In his list, Scott challenges us to wander off the beaten path, and discusses the importance of an eclectic listening experience – which we love, and probably should do more often.

Click below to read and listen. Scott added short explanations for each pick. He even throws in his top 5 Lou Reed albums for good measure. We added YT video’s and Discogs links so you can add these records to your wantlist. Thanks a lot Scott!

New album: Cheekface || Emphatically No.

Cheekface is a prolific band, with songs, singles, and EPs seemingly appearing every few months. If you’ve been keeping tabs on the band, you’ve probably already heard about half of their new full length Empathically No. And if that is the case, you’ll also know that this record will be fun as hell – the record includes both songs of the Emotional Rent Control 7″, which made my best singles of 2020 list. If you don’t know this band yet, Cheekface are an offbeat indiepop band that write extremely catchy popsongs with a talksinger and huge choruses. I guess they sound like a K Records version of They Might Be Giants? Anyhow, put this record on and let it put a smile on your face.


Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Specialist Subject Records

New song: Space Cadet || Forever For A While

If you, like me, have fond memories of Boston punkrockband The Explosion, then you are familiar with Matt Hock’s powerful and distinct voice. Imagine my excitement when I found out that Matt has started a new project with his former bandmate David Walsh, and that Wiretap Records will release their debut a couple of months from now. Here is the first song, which is a pleasant surprise. It’s a departure from the high-octane and tight punkrock of The Explosion. It’s guitar-driven and loose, and influenced by postpunk, britrock and new wave. It’s the kind of song that intrigues and gets under your skin upon first listen.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Wiretap Records

New song: RECKLING || Spiders

Early this year, RECKLING (Kelsey Reckling) recorded 24 Hours for the Burger Records Quarantunes compilation series. I liked that song enough to start following her on Bandcamp. She released her debut full length on cassette in 2018, which is worth checking out if you are into garagepop/rock. Last week she released another great tune, Spiders. This garagerock track has a strong ’90’s alternative music vibe. It’s the kind of song MTV would have played to death in the nineties, and I wouldn’t have minded that at all. The song features Max from Fidlar on drums, who also produced the song. Fingers crossed RECKLING will release her sophomore album in 2021.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

Best of 2020 Playlists || Niek’s Favorite Songs of 2020

At the start of each year, I create a playlist to keep track of newly released songs I like. Then, at the end of the year, I pick out the best song from this list to create a year-end mixtape, a playlist I like to return to every now and then, and revisit or rediscover songs and memories of a specific period of time. The thing is, I am not a very efficient person. So basically I drag songs to the playlist for 350 days resulting in quite the mess – the playlist currently has 1944 songs, almost 92 hours of music. Then, with the year coming to its close, I frantically go to work trimming down the playlist to its essence. That’s the hard part, because I am way better in adding stuff than throwing things away, or so I am told.  I usually end up with a playlist around 300-400 songs, in spite of my good intentions to keep it shorter. This year is no exception. What I did do differently this year however, is split up the songs in two playlists that reflect my two musical taste buds: a playlist with more straightforward punk, powerpop and garage hits from 2020, and one playlist with a little less distortion (i.e., indiepop, jangle, twee, but also postpunk, and more fuzzy and surfy popsounds). As always, one song per artists. Click read more to check them out. Hope you’ll like ’em, and will uncover some new favorite tunes! BTW, in case this is my final post of the year, take care, be well and see you in 2021!

Music Year-End List || Niek’s Favorite Albums of 2020

I am a sucker for year-end lists. They help uncover releases I missed, artists I overlooked, and curators worth following. I equally love the process of creating my own lists. There is an instrinsic value and joy in revisiting and reflecting on the records that come out each year. It offers a reminder that some records take time to appreciate, while others’ immediate appeal ultimately proved to be short-lived. One noticable trend in this streaming age is that artists release a crazy amount of great songs, whereas their albums often fail to live up to that promise. Quite a lot of my favorite songs of the year were on releases I left out my top 50. This top 50 celebrates the art of great collections of songs, records I own, records that are on my wantlist,records I’ve played and enjoyed front to back. What about those great individual songs? I will share my favorites in a playlist before the year is over (Update: I made two). I will also publish a list of my favorite singles (7″, digital) and EP’s of 2020 next week (Update: it’s here). And, of course, don’t forget to check out Dennis’ favorite records of 2020.

Ok, less talk, more rock. Below you’ll find my favorite records of the year. Mostly punk, garage, powerpop, rock-‘n’-roll, indiepop and indierock releases.  I’ve added short descriptions of what I love about each record, and sample songs and video’s. If you like what you hear, just click on the album title and AddToWantlist. Oh yeah, and for you streamers out there, there’s a playlist with my favorite song of each record at the bottom of this post. Let’s go!

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