Alternative Rock

New album: Quinton Brock || My Shadow

“A record that conveys and rises above rock’s latest trends all at once.” New York singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Quinton Brock, formerly of surf rock duo The Get Money Squad, has released his solo debut album My Shadow, setting the bar high: “We’re changing rock music forever.” It’s not hard to imagine that this ambition will be realized, because this is one of the most surprising, cool and versatile records of recent times. It has a NY sound without being reminiscent of The Velvet Underground or The Strokes, and the musicians have the personality and charisma to become crowd favorites. The energetic songs fly in all directions – in terms of influences you can tick indie, slacker rock, alternative, hip hop and surf – and one minute you hear jangly guitars and the next a funky R&B beat, interrupted by a few skits. All tracks are written, performed and produced by Quinton Brock, but somewhere also Travie McCoy, Pink Siifu, Portugal. The Man, Dane Orr, Griffin Smith, Don Hanson, Peter Enriquez, Gengis Don and Elijah Allen show up. This LP is unconventional and probably not for everyone, but isn’t that true of all groundbreaking changes?

My Shadow is out now digitally via Shadow Panther (Quinton Brock’s own label).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Ornament || Rock Solid

Based on the album title and cover art, you might expect hard rock music here, and the title track with which this LP opens tries to keep that idea alive. But then the musicians take a turn that goes more towards acid jazz than towards solid rock, with songs more like Corduroy than Deep Purple. Quite different from what we usually write about, but it’s done so well that we recommend you to give it a try anyway.

We’re talking about Rock Solid, the new full-length of Ornament, the musical vehicle of Will Mann and Ryan Donoho. The duo from Nashville, Tennessee wrote, arranged and produced the twelve tunes here, as well as taking care of the vocals and most of the instruments (guitars, bass and drums, but also sax, cowbell, triangle, woodblocks, tambourine, handclaps and lots of keys). This is warm quality music, hooky, detailed and funky, with strong vocals and lovely melodies, from creative wizards who know what they are doing. You can call that rock solid, right?

Rock Solid is out now digitally, on CD and cassette via Ornament Records & Tapes.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: Shiny Giant || Slacker Logic

Good friends Joe Whalen (vocals, guitars) and Tom Smallcomb (drums) have been part of the northern Pennsylvania music scene for years, mostly with cover bands, but under the moniker of Shiny Giant – a hobby project – they now also bring their own songs. On their debut EP Slacker Logic – great title – you can hear the first six tasters of what they are capable of. At my request, songwriter Joe explains how the tunes came about: “Each individual track is recorded from start to finish in one take directly into an old Zoom 16 track recorder, with no edits or computer tricks. The idea is to have a raw, live-sounding recording. The songs themselves are all based on things I’ve experienced in my lifetime and topics include bad decisions, failing relationships, mental health issues, depression, and fast women, hahaha.” This process has led to to these lo-fi and primitive yet energetic basement rock hits, relatable both musically and lyrically, somewhat reminiscent of JEFF The Brotherhood in their Heavy Days period. The expression ‘slacker logic’ is one to remember (I guess it’s the realization that life has no rationale that you can control, without making a problem of it), and this band is one to keep an eye on.

Slacker Logic is out now digitally and on CD (self-released). Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

Dusted || The 10 Best Cover Songs Of June 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 June we heard some covers on the soundtrack of Baz Lurhmann’s biopic film ELVIS, The Routes’ did a surf rock Kraftwerk tribute, Elvis Costello celebrated Paul McCartney’s 80th birthday, a project of Disclotch Records contained 27 home recordings to pay homage to Daniel Johnston, and previously we wrote about releases from Thee Escapees, Mikey Erg, Reverendo Band, Runaway Lovers and Townies with some successful cover versions. Below we list the 10 best that we haven’t mentioned yet.

Hound Dog || Cover: The Record Company || Original: Big Mama Thornton
The iconic rock ‘n’ roll track Hound Dog was written by Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller, first released by blues singer Big Mama Thornton (1953), and made famous by Elvis Presley (1956). The ELVIS soundtrack features an honorable cover by Shonka Dukureh, but as a fan of American roots rock band The Record Company, it’s their version that you see here (not related to the movie). It’s not a Thornton or Presley imitation: as always The Record Company gives it its own twist. In case you don’t know: they previously worked on Beastie Boys’ So What’Cha Want, still one of my favorite covers ever.

New album: KITIMOTO || Vintage Smell

I’ve been enjoying myself all week with Vintage Smell, the full-length debut album by Phoenix-based indie rock quartet KITIMOTO, but I still can’t quite grasp it. As if you’ve seen a movie that won’t let go, you’re convinced it’s very good and something special, but you’re aware that you did’t understand all the metaphors and references.

Jonathan Marion Douglas (guitars, vocals, keys), Zane Gillum (bass), Cavan Noone (drums, percussion) and Jason Woodbury (guitars, vocals) have known each other for over 15 years, and reportedly the 10 tracks here came slowly but surely into being, took long shaping and refining. It was worth the time and effort. All the songs – there are no weak moments – are bewitching and addictive, color outside the lines of genres and expectations, with intense guitar duels, poetic lyrics and convincing vocals. This is an ultimate example of a record that has to grow, that continues to fascinate, one with a past but for sure also with a future.

Vintage Smell out now digitally and on vinyl LP through Fort Lowell Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Mikey Erg || Love At Leeds

Given his crazy output as a musician, his knowledge of rock-‘n’-roll history, and how fanatical he visits shows of his favorite bands across the globe, it’s probably a toss up whether Mikey Erg’s main identity is a musician or a fan. But a chance to record with Steve Albini in old school analogue fashion? That’s special – In Utero is one Mikey’s favorite records of all time and he never recorded fully analogue before. As anticipated, Erg sounds particularly inspired on his latest record Love At Leeds.

One thing Erg was aiming for was capturing that ’90s Albini sound. I think he succeeded, but what I love most about Love At Leeds is that this is not Mikey Erg going grunge, or Mikey Erg copying ’90s alternative hits. This still very much is a Mikey Erg record, and the Albini influences are noticable but subtle. Still, these songs are more layered, diverse, and powerful. Love At Leeds rocks hard in all the right places and is super catchy – that 1-2 punch of Caroline Told Me So and Almost Like Judee Still is pop punk bliss. It’s the kind of record where you find something new to like with each play – those handclaps in Heartbreak no. 53! A truly fun Hollies cover (On A Carousel) – love how Erg tests his vocal range in this one! The ’90s grunge touches in Landmines!

What also stands out is that the names of Jeff Rosenstock, Alex Clute and Lou Hanman (make sure to check out Hanman’s latest record if you haven’t already) explicitly are on the front cover, indicating this very much was a group effort. Complement that all star group of talent with a top producer and some of the best songwriting of Erg’s career and you have one hell of a record. Love At Leeds is out now through Don Giovanni Records. It probably sounds even better on vinyl.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New album: Abel Natürlich || Smug

Geertruida, a record label from the Northern coastal province in the Netherlands, provides the perfect metaphor for Abel Natürlich’s debut record Smug: “A restless theme park ride.” It’s probably the weirdest thing I actually enjoyed lately.

THERE IS JUST SO MUCH GOING ON! That was my first impression. Smug is a kind of record that intentionally overstimulates. And musically it’s all over the place. There is a chiptune element to most of the songs, there are egg punk parts, there definitely is some baroque pop to the record – the vocal melodies strangely remind me of The Zombies’ Odessey And Oracle.

About that theme park metaphor. Smug sounds more like a really dense theme park than a specific ride. Let’s say each of the songs has a lot of rides that are all hectic and unpredictable. The waiting time in between? Minimal.

Bring your own food and drinks. Smug is out now through Geertruida Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Savak || Human Error / Human Delight

Five records in, and Savak (featuring members of Obits, Holy Fuck, The Nation Of Ulysses, and The Cops) is still finding ways to keep their mid tempo indie rock interesting. Human Error / Human Delight is a subtle record, which makes it the perfect soundtrack for a busy work day. It’s the kind of record that offers an ebb and flow of attentional demand that feels natural. It’s the kind of record that keeps you moving forward, and where each of the songs have moments where you are pulled in without ever becoming too distracting. It’s a layered and diverse piece of work, intelligent but not pretentious, and well suited for multiple plays.

I’ve noticed several reviews of the record describing Savak’s sound as postpunk, which I guess reveals my ignorance about that genre. To my ears, there are definite ’80s influences but more from punkrock, powerpop and American underground pop. Above all, it’s quality guitar driven indie rock.

Give Human Error / Human Delight a couple of spins, it’s an understated yet rewarding record, and it keeps growing on me. LP available now through Peculiar Works Music, Ernest Jennings Record Co. and Geenger Records – the black and white splatter version looks particularly appealing and complements the stylish artwork very well.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New album: Deadly Cliffs || Deadly Cliffs

Please meet new alternative rock duo Deadly Cliffs from Bergen, Norway, which is best done by listening to the eight tracks on their self-titled debut album. The song titles are stories in themselves – Nowhere Then, No Hair now!, I Want a Secret That I Can Tell Everyone, Between Facebook and Shitting in the Woods – and so is their music. Vegard Wikne and Sondre Veland play wild, drawn-out rock music with hard-hitting drums, heavy guitars and captivating vocals. You could call it prog rock, but you also hear influences from psych, blues and garage – unpredictable, and catchier than you would expect. RIYL White Denim, Ron Gallo, Deerhunter.

Deadly Cliffs is out now digitally and on vinyl LP through Apollon Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: Stay Put || 2

Stay Put made a strong entrance to the scene with their debut EP last year. They return even more strongly with their second EP which simply is called 2. The four new songs showcases Stay Put’s exciting blend of punk rock, college rock and altpop. The B-side of this 7″ contains the two major hits Zap Gun and Working Holiday which reveal the poppy side of Stay Put, but it may very well be A-side Big Slump that is my favorite by the band so far. I’m really enjoying the trajectory this band is on, and can’t wait to discover what’s next.

2 is out now on pink 7″ through Crew Cuts (UK) and Blind Rage Records (US).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Crew Cuts || Blind Rage Records

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