Alternative Rock

New album: Heavy Feather || Mountain of Sugar

Which weighs more, a kilo of rocks or a kilo of feathers? Could that riddle have led to the band name Heavy Feather? One thing is for sure, this Swedish band plays heavy blues rock like it was common in the 70s and they do it very well. The band is cool and singer Lisa Lystam has a mighty voice. Their sophomore album Mountain of Sugar has eleven songs that will make you drive faster. Out now digitally, on CD and on vinyl LP through The Sign Records. Indeed, that’s the same label as Hot Breath‘s, about which I wrote similar words yesterday. But for Heavy Feather: more cowbell! And that’s something not to be taken too lightly.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Judge Grumble || Overruled!

Judge Grumble are an indierock/indiepunk band from Richmond, Virginia. They recently released their second album, Overruled! It’s the second act in a trilogy of concept albums and it’s quite the trip. Buckle up for an eclectic mix of poppy indiepunk tracks (Shy Guy, Kudos To You), quirky indierock (Literati, Quiltbag), and sketches that are plain weird. I asked the band to explain the origins of their cartoonesque bandname and the spoken word sketches on their record. “Back in high school we had this joke where we would come up with random phrases and call them “indie band names.” I’m not 100% sure but I think Judge Grumble was one of those. Waaaay way back in the first iteration of the band (2012 or so?) the “character” of judge grumble became an inside joke. We’d do the whole voice and improv little skits during practices and stuff. Eventually we decided we wanted to bring some of those skits to life in between the tracks for fun (and also to pad the length).”

Given the variety of songs, and the quirkiness of the sketches and some of the songs, it’s unlikely that you will like every single track on Overruled! But, Judge Grumble have made an album that is definitely worth your time. I particularly like how the band aims to make every song interesting. Listen to the many elements they’ve stuffed in Chewed Out for example. Right before the 5-minute song appears to overstay its welcome, the band introduces a pretty cool group vocal harmony that transitions in a punkrock fade-out. Judge Grumble doesn’t need to be quirky or eclectic to be interesting though. The straightforward indie rock of Braindead is one of my favorite songs on the record. But the song that especially drew me in to Judge Grumble is Weehawken, a throwback to the emo poppunk of the early ’00s with an infectious chorus. The band explains: “On the surface, Weehawken is about a little town on the far north side of new jersey and the ennui of a guy who commutes between there and NYC. But none of us have ever lived in NY or NJ… we just really liked the name—it sounds slangy, like “are you hawkin’? cause we hawkin’.” Somehow Alex turned that wordplay into something more meaningful.” Download Overruled! now on Bandcamp.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Waste Man || One Day It’ll All Be You

I’ve never understood why moody postpunk bands like Protomartyr and Fontaines D.C. are such critics darlings and tend to end up in a lot of AOTY lists. Okay, Fontaines D.C. have some songs I like, but for the most part bands like that are too bleak or too boring for me. Basically, I have trouble connecting with them, which, of course, is a matter of personal taste – or more likely, a lack of complexity in my taste palet. But every now and then, there is a band that manages to pull off moody and complex postpunk in a way that I can fully get behind. Take Waste Man from New Orleans. On their second LP (One Day It’ll All Be You) they take punk and hardcore in new directions without losing any of the thrill of actual punk music.

Waste Man offer tempo variations, edgy bass lines and excellent guitar riffs. They constantly keep you on the tip of your toes with the unpredictability in their songs. It’s a record full of surprises that offers thrills, excitement, and cathartic releases that I often find to be lacking in this kind of music. Album opener The Siren is a good example of the many sides of Waste Man, where danceable postpunk verses and hardcore punk choruses bounce off each other. Run All Night is one of the most catchy songs on the record, which distantly sounds like a mashup between the Stooges and Thin Lizzy. Proofreaders, Singles, And Philosophers is one of the most exciting songs released in 2021, and already is one of my favorites of the year. And then there is album closer Wishful Thinking, in which Waste Man introduce the power rock ballad to the postpunk world. Quite the week for Feel It Records, who simultaneously released that excellent Spread Joy record.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Feel It Records

New EP: Dazy || The Crowded Mind

Early 2020, Dazy released a three song digital single called Revolving Door. It was my first taste of the band, and the 90 second song Weatherman Got It Wrong hinted upon your-new-favorite-band material. Three months later, we are treated to an 8-song EP that shows even more potential: The Crowded Mind. Dazy play noisy and fuzzy altpop that will appeal to fans of Lemonheads and guitar-driven britpop. Underneath Dazy’s distorted sound are excellent pop songs, and tracks like See The Bottom, Right As Rain and Perpetual Motion would have received major air time in the nineties.

The crazy thing is, Dazy is not even a band. It’s a solo project by a music publicist (James Goodson). Goodson is also a member of grungepunk band Teen Death and poppunk band Bashful – make sure to check out their 2020 album Driving. Dazy’s releases are currently digital only. Let’s hope that Goodson ultimately will release his best tunes on a LP.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Spit City || Long Dark Night

These ten songs on Spit City’s debut full-length are recorded in a trailer on the Rock, SMTX. That fact, together with the cover photo and album title Long Dark Night, immediately evokes all kinds of images. Picture it, songwriter / multi-instrumentalist Sean Rose, working on new music there, guitar on his lap, a six-pack Lone Star beer on the drum that functions as a side table, above which the ghost of his idol John Prine floats. Even before the pandemic broke out, Rose was dealing with the hardest years of his life. “Been sitting inside my house // Just counting the bricks // I’ve been building around me // All this time // To keep the whole world out,” he sings in the opening track. In this album, he breaks down that wall completely; the songs span from remorse over loves lost and friends gone, painful looks in the mirror, the manic energy of getting drunk alone, and wishing for what so many of us simply call “before.” Heavy stuff, but it has led to really good rock songs, which are sung and played with conviction.

Spit City – Sean Rose (vocals, guitar, drums), with additional guitar or bass playing from Jordan Good, Patrick Ford or Donnie James Rio – delivers an impressive punk-infused Americana debut that hits hard.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Adam Hattaway and the Haunters || Woolston, Texas

A week ago Wurld Series delivered their second LP, with Adam Hattaway as lead guitarist. For fans of his work there’s already more! Adam Hattaway and The Haunters from Christchurch, New Zealand have just released their third full-length album. The “alternative rock and roll” band has a classic setup with two dueling guitars, bass and drums (there’s also an organ popping up), and I think I hear influences from classics by The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and Teenage Fanclub (I could also call it a mix of power pop, country, soul, R&B and rock). Yet it’s quite an interesting, varied and captivating record, not at least because of the singing style of the front man, who seems to use a different voice for each song, enhanced by the backing vocals of the three other band members. I kept listening to get it all in and when the ten songs were over I started all over again. Standout track Sympathy gives you an idea of what to expect.

Woolston, Texas is out now digitally, on CD and on vinyl LP through Holiday Records. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Space Cadet || Lion On A Leash

Space Cadet is quite the departure from the in-you-face punkrock Matt Hock and David Walsh used to play with The Explosion. Their debut album Lion On A Leash features  the kind of guitar driven dreamy postpunk that slowly but surely gets under your skin. Hock explains at Glide Magazine: “The record sounds like two guys who love reverb and chorus pedals, The Stone Roses, Cock Sparrer and The Rolling Stones.” A Spotify  playlist curated by the band also notes The Jam, Wire, Joe Strummer, John Cale, Slowdive, Oasis, and Sugar as influences. It’s hard to really pinpoint any of these bands to the sound of Space Cadet, but there is a sense of familiarity to most of their songs. For example, If Only and Scream For You have a ’80s new wave vibe, and Bad Luck clearly nods to Britpop. My favorite tracks are Forever For A While and Start Running Way.  Those two sound effortless and confident, and are among the punchier songs on the album.  They are the recommended entry point for those sceptical about the new musical direction Hock and Walsh take with Space Cadet. Ultimately, I think Lion On A Leash is quite the leap from The Explosion, but it’s worth the trip.  Out now on Wiretap Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Wiretap Records

New album: Drip-Fed || Kill The Buzz

Okay, this one may be my favorite surprise among this week’s releases. Hardcore kids may have seen this one coming given the band’s past releases, but for me Drip-Fed wasn’t even a blip on my radar.  I’m glad that has changed because  Drip-Fed have a very interesting sound that’s loud yet dynamic, hardcore yet melodic, and agressive yet catchy. In short: it rocks.

I’ll let you in on how I fell for this record. The first two tracks on Kill The Buzz definitely warmed me up, breaking down my defenses for what comes next. The opening track is particularly strong, with excellent drums and guitar interplay.  But it is track 3, the title track, where everything clicks. That song hits all the right notes at the most unexpected but still perfect time. It starts with a bass riff, quickly mirrored by the drums and guitars, creating a wave of groovy loudness. After 30 seconds or so, the band eases up with cleaner sounding guitars. It’s when the screaming starts, moving towards a gang vocals chorus that feel more like a battle cry. It’s the remainder of the song where I finally get hooked in full. There is an amazing, super catchy middle part to the song, where bass, drums and guitars bouncing off each other. And if that’s not enough, the band slides into an insane guitar solo. The song is less than 3 minutes long, but it’s packed, and it’s blast. And that’s just that one song. The record is full of great moments like that. Drip-Fed keeps you interested and intrigued throughout. This is rockin’ hardcore in the vein of Every Time I Die,  Fucked Up and Touché Amoré (24 Hour Firework Stand), but slightly more accessible, and may appeal to fans of metal and alternative rock as well.  Out now at Head2Wall Records (US) and  i.corrupt Records (EU).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Head2Wall Records || i.corrupt Records

New single: Forgivers || Some Future

Now this is a great debut single! Meet American rock band Forgivers: Alex Levine and Alex Rosamilia (both from The Gaslight Anthem), Jed Winokur (The Ratchets) and Trevor Reddell (Let Me Run). They describe both their attitude and their music as “Gothic optimism”, but don’t be put off by this term or by the mentioned influences (The Cure, The Jesus & Mary Chain, The Clash, Oasis) – just listen. The guitar-driven song slowly but surely draws you in, to end in an uplifting polyphonic climax: ‘Some future! Whoohoo!’ Let’s hope for a future with more music from these guys.

‘There’s a shallow in our souls // And it was filled by rock and roll // Don’t know what to tell ya’

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Fake Fruit || Fake Fruit

Rocks In Your Head is a record label from San Francisco founded by Sonny Smith. I am a huge Sonny (and the Sunsets) fan, and I am excited by the early goings of this label, which clearly reflects Sonny’s broad musical tastes and knack for experimentation. Rocks In Your Head has already put out a solid compilation and albums by The Gonks and Galore and the most recent Sonny and The  Sunsets record. This week, the label released a debut by a band that probaby will release their next album on a much bigger label. Not because Rocks In Your Head is not a good fit, but because the band sounds like they are on the verge of breaking out to a bigger (huge?) audience. I am talking about Fake Fruit, whose self-titled record sounds chaotic yet focused, messy yet confident. The album is full of cool guitar riffs, and frontwoman Hannah D’Amato strikes just the right balance between singing and howling that works perfectly for this type of music. On the great opening track No Mutuals, there is a sonic similarity to Sleater Kinney, and album closer Milkman sounds like a Parquet Courts jam, but throughout the record, Fake Fruit have very much created their own niche. It’s a dynamic and diverse corner of the planet, with start-stop postpunk (Miscommunication, No Space For Residence), garagerock (Old Skin, Don’t Put It On Me), and indie rock balladry (Keep You, and the delightful Stroke My Ego). Don’t sit on this one folks!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

Scroll to Top