Alternative Rock

New EP: The Cracks || Oliver’s Bath

We’ve said it before, but musically the pandemic has also brought great things. The four-track EP Oliver’s Bath by The Cracks is a very good example of this. Brothers Wesley (guitar, vocals) and Cole Bergersen (drums, vocals) began making music as a duo when their ska band (Irrational Consumers) could no longer rehearse due to the lockdowns. Together they wrote songs in which they combined their love for indie and punk in energetic garage rock with great hooks and a Stones feel. Assisted by Ian Torres (bass), and Ricardo Sasaki and Colonel Medusa (keys), they recorded these four songs, of which the first two in particular make you jump like you haven’t been allowed to do for the past year and a half. Moonlight‘s hoo-hoo-hooo’s are irresistible, and Wallet Chain is an anthem for these times – shout out along to the awesome lyrics (including a reference to Hotel California): “It’s not you! // It’s not me! // It’s everything!”

Oliver’s Bath is out now digitally. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

Gimme 5! Lake Artifik Shares His Five Favorite Albums

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.

One of my favorite discoveries of 2021 is Lake Artifik. This is the moniker under which Swiss musician Carlos E. Cordero writes and records beautiful, dreamy acoustic guitar songs. His debut album Dream Park consists of nine layered, mysterious and slightly sad tracks about past memories, a very suitable soundtrack for Sunday mornings. In the meantime he has also released the EP Bloom, with three new songs that are a bit more straightforward, pop oriented, and positive. Landgraaf in particular caught my attention, because I went to Pinkpop there a few times. The lyrics are about the fantasies that Carlos and his best friend at the time had about playing at the festival; as teenagers they dreamed of ‘making it’ with their band, thinking they were the coolest kids around since they performed gigs for their 60 fans (“For all the times we saw the sky // Thinking that we could fly // Jamming our songs through the night // Waiting for our time to shine”).

This seemed like a good reason to ask Carlos about his sources of inspiration. The explanations of his favorite albums make it clear that we are dealing with an artist who is a good listener, who also knows how to describe it well.

New album: Teddy Grey || The Great Failed Romances Of The Twentieth Century

There are worse, much worse ideas for a concept album than The Great Failed Romances Of The Twentieth Century. It’s the focus of an ambitious project by NY based artist Teddy Grey. Grey picked and wrote songs about 30 celebrity romances that went wrong, including iconic couples (Sid & Nancy, Hepburn & Tracy, Ike & Tina, Sonny & Cher, Lindsey Buckingham & Stevie Nicks), but also weird ones (Vanilla Ice & Madonna), and romances that may not have actually occured (Monroe & JFK, Brando & Dean). An extensive supporting cast of musicians helped out in the recordings.

Part satire, part heartfelt tribute to pop culture history, The Great Failed Romances Of The Twentieth Century is packed with wit and catchy melodies. Musically, the record is all over the place with each song sounding differently, from pop punk to arena rock, from ballads to retro pop, giving the record a theatrical, musical vibe that harbors more than a touch of Weird Al Yankovich as well. Consequently, the record can be hit or miss depending on your taste. Put differently, you are unlikely to care for all 84 minutes of the record, but there will be a little bit for everyone. It’s no surprise that Grey describes his music as “Rock N Roll McDonalds.”

Highlights for me are the Sid & Nancy jam There’s Nothing That I Love (But You Come Close), Unwritten Gay Romantic History (Greta & Mercedes), Little Black Book (James & Marlon), and Letters (Virginia & Vita). Cool concept, fun tunes.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: The Surfing Magazines || Badgers of Wymeswold

The self-titled debut album by The Surfing Magazines, a rock band with members of The Wave Pictures and Slow Club, made it to the top 10 of my year-end list in 2017. The London based four-piece now have released their sophomore LP Badgers of Wymeswold, with 16 bright, fun new songs. The cover art is a collage with cut out photos of badgers, and actually the music is also a kind of collage – of styles and influences. You’ll hear experimental rock, catchy power pop, vintage folk, sun beaten harmony pop, surf-noir, and polished garage rock, incorporated into both guitar rockers and softer ballads, tracks that also include free form saxophone parts, eerie violins and melancholic piano playing. David Tattersall (lead guitar, vocals), Charles Watson (rhythm guitar, keys, vocals), Franic Rozycki (bass, vocals), and Dominic Brider (drums, vocals) provide a characteristic sound, not at least thanks to the distinctive vocals. Listen to standouts Pink Ice Cream (irresistible six bar blues with wistful lyrics relating to the childhood of the band members), and the title track (drawn from Tattersall’s nightmare vision about his home town’s population of self governing people; he also depicted his referenced dreams in the album artwork). Summer is back for a while.

Badgers of Wymeswold is out now digitally, on CD and double vinyl LP through Moshi Moshi Music.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: The Red Pears || You Thought We Left Because The Door Was Open But We Were Waiting Outside

A cover photo with a clown out of focus, a long album title –You Thought We Left Because The Door Was Open But We Were Waiting Outside – that tells a story in itself, music that is somewhere between The Strokes, Allah-Las, The Subways, and SadGirl:- listening to the eight songs on the new (third) LP by Californian indie / alternative rock band The Red Pears is an exciting adventure. The sound of Henry Vargas (guitar, vocals), Jose Corona (drums), and Patrick Juarez (bass) evokes feelings of nostalgia, but sounds quite urgent in 2021 though. Fuzzy guitars, dynamic melodies, screaming vocals, and haunting lyrics (fron standout track House of Mirrors: “I don’t know if this was for attention // Whether your mind plays the games I should mention // I could take it away just for this time // I just want to be me if it’s alright” ). A lot can happen in 23 minutes, as it turns out.

Out now digitally. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Ike Reilly || Because The Angels

American singer / songwriter / guitarist Ike Reilly offers that rare combination in which everything is right: he is a great storyteller, has a distinctive voice with an attractive gritty edge, and his experienced band knows exactly how to create the necessary greasy sound. On the new full-length album Because The Angels you’ll hear ten perfectly produced rock ‘n’ roll songs with sharp observations. The ten songs vary in tempo and instrumentation, the poetic lyrics are always captivating, and the hooks and harmony vocals provide nice surprises. This is rebellious punk rock in a country blues package, dark and uplifting at the same time. The opening track Little Messiahs sets the tone: “Who will sing these working blues // For the working poor // Whose souls are oozing // Solvent as each day it passes on // And after the candidates are gone // And everything is said and done // Who will sing these working songs” – it should be clear who fulfills that role from an intrinsic motivation, and in an authentic way. Besides Ike Reilly himself (guitar, vocals), the band (The Ike Reilly Assassination) consists of Phil Karnats (guitar), Dave Cottini (drums), Pete Cimbalo (bass), and Adam Krier (organ). On the previously released single Trick of the Light, the front man trades lines with his sons Shane, Kevin, and Mickey, asking questions about faith, hope, family, money, and fate. We could describe song by song in this way, but in fact everything about this LP is beautiful, right down to Tony Fitzpatrick’s cover art.

Because The Angels is out now on CD via Rock Ridge Music. You can listen to the full album on all streaming services.

Add to want list: Discogs || Ike Reilly

New compilation: Various Artists || Heroes Of the Night – Punk, Pop, And Wave From The UK Underground ’79-’83

We recently wrote about The Go-Go’s, one of the first all-female bands to write their own songs and have a number #1 hit record. But they were not the only female pioneers trying to break barriers. Heroes Of The Night is a new compilation that pays tribute to a specific group of boundary movers: frontwomen in the U.K. and Irish Punk, Powerpop, New Wave, Hard Rock and Synth-Pop underground of the late ’70s, early ’80s. The compilation features 12 artists including The Russians, Cheap Cinema, Vermillion and the Aces, The Chevrons and Teachers Pet. Three Phase provide the closing track, exclusive to the vinyl release.

The compilation features some of the coolest and rarest singles of that scene and era. As separate 45s, these songs are either impossible to find or will cost you a fortune. Thanx to Brooklyn label Reminder Records, conveyors of quality punk, glam & powerpop reissues, we can finally own all these underground classics on one convenient platter. It’s not like we needed a reminder (pun not intended) that this was probably the best era for this kind of music, but I’m grateful for compilations like this one. Three-word review: Must own compilation.

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

Gimme 5! Stephen Steen of Megadose Shares His Five Favorite Records

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.

It’s been a while since our last Gimme 5. Stephen Steen must have thought so as well, because out of nowhere he sent me his five favorite records. How did this happen? Well, when you release a superb record with the potential to cross over to a major audience, you get a lot of requests and e-mails all of a sudden. And it’s easy to mixup requests from different music sites. Our win! That superb record by the way is Wild & Free by his band Megadose (our review here). It’s a record that slowly wins you over; a record on which Megadose put their own spin on ’00s indierock. If you are a fan of acts like Bands of Horses, The Shins, Fleet Foxes, The War on Drugs and Frightened Rabbit, I believe you will like this band a lot. Recently, Megadose released its first video ever which should give you a good sample of their music. [post continues below]

New album: First Boy On The Moon || First Boy On The Moon

Listen, here’s the self-titled debut album from First Boy On The Moon — one giant leap for Californian singer/songwriter David Pedroza, now based in Sweden. I asked David about his moniker: “It was a song that I wrote a few years ago for my young son. He had been having a tough time adjusting at school, so I was trying to sooth him with something fun to hear. When I played it for some musician friends of mine, one of them suggested that the song title should be the name of the band.” Besides David (vocals, guitar), the band consists of Julius (lead guitar), Jens (bass), and Johannes (drums). On their LP you’ll hear nine captivating alternative pop / rock songs, in which I mainly detect influences from later U2, but also from early Bowie and contemporary The War On Drugs. The music doesn’t seem so special at first, but slowly but surely you discover more and more irresistible hooks and appealing lyrics — it gets under your skin and in your heart. A track like Pretty Vicious could easily become a radio hit, but actually that goes for every tune. Not unimportant, the artwork is pretty cool too – David was a graphic designer before he moved to Europe (a good one, as you can see). In every way this will be a gem in your record collection.


First Boy On The Moon is out now on limited transparent blue vinyl through Manic Records, available in select record stores. On Bandcamp, YouTube and streaming services you’ill find the individual songs. The album as a whole is exclusive to vinyl.

Tracklist: Drown It Out // Straight Up With You // The Truth // First Boy On The Moon // All Right Already // Grim Reaper // If This Isn’t Love // What Alice Was Talking About // Pretty Vicious

New album: Fuzz Gun || Silverstoned

Garage rock comes in all shapes and sizes, and one rehearsal room is not like another. Although Portland, Oregon six-piece Fuzz Gun say they play dirty, fuzzy rock ‘n’ roll, I suspect they’re a lot tidier than many other bands in the genre (note: I wrote this before watching the video below ;-)). The guitar riffs may be heavy, and the lead vocals gritty, but they manage to avoid an overcrowded wall of sound; the instruments give each other space and the handclaps, backup vocals, and clear production provide a nice contrast. Not unimportant, the starting point is good, because Todd Eaton (vocals, guitar, keys, percussion), Robert Trujillo (bass), Mark Wanaka (guitar), Brian Smith (drums, percussion), Lori Van Dreal (vocals), and Ditte Kuijpers ( vocals) know how to write catchy songs. They prove that eight times in a row on their new full-length album Silverstoned. Listen carefully, because the band members challenge you: four tracks were already recorded in the studio before the pandemic broke out, the other 4 tracks were recorded remotely by themselves. Can you distinguish which is which?

Stream the full LP below.

Silverstoned is out now digitally. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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