Indie Pop

New album: The Lost Days || In The Store

Singer Songwriters Sarah Rose Janko (Dawn Riding) and Tony Molina together make up The Lost Days, a project where they mix jangly indie pop with folkrock. To  give you an idea, Janko and Molina count Bill Fox, The Byrds, and Dear Nora as some of the infuences for their new record In The Store.

If you are familiar with the music of Tony Molina, who is the principal songwriter in The Lost Days, you won’t be surprised by the conciseness of the songs on In The Store. Staying well below a total playing time of 15 minutes, the record has ten songs that flow by quickly and gently: Timeless guitar pop in bite-size nuggets, with sparse use of percussion. Janko’s vocals have an angelic quality that fits the music particularly well. In The Store is close to flawless, you can play it front-to-back repeatedly and it never bores, every song is a treat. This one is essential listening for fans of jangle pop. Buy the LP through Speakeasy Studios SF.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Whitney’s Playland || Sunset Sea Breeze

If you’d like to know what the fuzz is with Whitney’s Playland (San Francisco) and their debut LP Sunset Sea Breeze, I don’t have a direct answer. Whitney’s Playland is Inna Showalter and George Tarlson. Their work in acts like Grandma’s Boyfriend, Blades of Joy, Modern Charms helps to partly explain why this is an anticipated project. But are the songs any good? The first couple times I played Sunset Sea Breeze my mind drew blank. I didn’t know what to think, had no clear recollection of most of the songs, the music slipping away like water between my fingers. I knew one thing only. There is something here, this is a special record. So I kept at it. I’m still doing that. I’m enjoying the process, digging the songs more and more. Here’s where I am at right now: Sunset Sea Breeze is an understated gem of an indie pop record, with gorgeous melodies and beautiful dreamy vocals by Inna Showalter. It makes me feel things. Like I said, I don’t have a direct answer. Other people have put their thoughts on Sunset Sea Breeze way better than I am capable of. Read the reviews at our friends of Janglepophub and RSTB, for example.

I do know this. Sunset Sea Breeze is a must listen if your are into indie pop and classic indie rock. Even if it doesn’t click right away, keep playing it. It is like a whisper, and those are easy to miss in our attention demanding society. Give Sunset Sea Breeze a chance, and it may very well end up as one of your favorites of the year. Buy the LP through Meritorio Records and the Tape through Paisley Shirt, although the latter may be sold out already.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Meritorio || Paisley Shirt

New album: Various Artists || Lower Than Underground Vol. 1

Do you like underground pop and punk? Do you like cover songs? Do you like fanzines? Do you like music festivals? Old Bad Habits Label and Shambotic Recordings have got you covered! The first volume of the Lower Than Underground series fanzine has exclusive interviews and articles “by and for Nick Godfrey and his Precious recordings taken by Jim of the Jasmine Minks, Rocker Rosehip, Damo Suzuki of Can, Darren & Caroline of Next phase Normal records and The Manhattan Love Suicides, Kissamatic Lovebubbles, Tim Wells, I, Ludicrous, politics in music by Tim Rippington, record store day by Darren Lockwood, connection between punk and indie pop by Dimitris Patsonis, 1st interview of the next big thing of Greek pop The Secret Postcards,” and much more.

It comes with a 22-cover song cd, 6 of which are exclusive to the comp. It’s the kind of cover compilation that is perfectly balanced between well known hits and deep cuts, and with a variety of approaches and styles by the covering artists. Highly recommended, and if you need an additional reason to purchase this: Proceeds of the sale of the fanzine and comp will help fund the 1st Athens Pop Underground fest & convention, happening in Athens, Greece, at the end of spring (19-20 of May 2023). Lower Than Underground Vol. 1 is a win win win win!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: New York Pavements || Outside The Glasshouse

West London indie band New York Pavements is not just about music, but also about images. Paul Brooking and Matt Bond are musicians and filmmakers/photographers, Outside The Glasshouse is their multi-media project with strong songs, a photographic essay and and heartbreaking videos. Expect a concept album about the male mid-life crisis, that tells the dark story of one man’s downward spiral of divorce, redundancy and rejection, with a “post-mod mod” sound in which you’ll  hear influences from The Stone Roses, Royal Blood and classic rock screamers. Cleverly constructed, synergistic to the max, affectingly successful.

Outside The Glasshouse, written and produced by Paul Brooking, is out now on CD, DVD and vinyl LP via Reggie Music. All profits from the album are donated to mental health charity Andy’s Man Club.

Add to wantlist: New York Pavements

New album: The Hepburns || Only The Hours

Welsh indie pop outfit The Hepburns return with Only The Hours, their 14th album since they started making music in 1985. This record almost didn’t see the public, because the recordings from 2018 ended up in the freezer for one reason or another. But when Estella Rosa joined the band and thawed the tracks, she suggested releasing the LP – “it was such a thing of beauty” – with her vocals added to the work of Matt Jones (rhythm guitar, vocals), Mike Thomas (bass, melodica), Les Mun (drums, percussion) and A.D. Clement (lead guitar), who were assisted by Marcus Tilt (keys), Sue Reece (flute), Cris Haines (flugelhorn) and Awen Gravell (clarinet). They call it “a soundtrack to a bleak 60s spy film with the likes of John Barry and Ennio Morricone as an inspiration,” and indeed the 13 understated songs between the classic overture and epilogue are quite cinematic and nostalgic. Expect poetic lyrics, heavenly vocals and atmospheric tunes, in which the sound of and a reference to a table tennis ball provide light in the darkness.

Only The Hours is out now digitally, on cassette and CD through Lavender Sweep Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: A-Go-Go || Super Sport Singles

Over the past 12 months, Columbus garage pop outfit A-Go-Go released a trilogy of singles. Those three singles are now available on one convenient Tape via Super Sport Records that is called the Super Sport Singles. It offers a perfect introduction to the music of A-Go-Go, a band that blends infectious garage pop with subtle country influences. The six songs show the many talents of the band. They can do melancholic and dreamy (Keep On, Union Gate), upbeat and raucous (Dressed Up, Lender) and something more traditional (Polly). Not unlike Jacuzzi Boys meets Allah-Las meets Jaill, I’d say. More than anything, the Super Sport Singles Tape makes me curious about what is next for the band. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this band break out sooner or later.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Super Sport

New album: Spirit Ghost || Melting Right Before Your Eyes

Very nice, a new full-length album from Spirit Ghost is floating out of your speakers. In ten years, this project by American songwriter Alex Whitelaw (vocals, guitar) has grown from solo bedroom music exercises to a venerable garage pop band featuring Billy Hickey (drums), Guitar: Tim Zoidis (guitar) and John Bergin (bass, violin). The nine tracks (there are also two interludes) on Melting Right Before Your Eyes are richly orchestrated and sound amazing, with influences ranging from folk and crooners to surf rock and garage psych – as if Bryan Ferry has taken care of Mystic Braves. Somehow that combination works wonderfully, and a moody and jangly chamber pop song like single I Prayed turns out to go well together with infectious and energetic neo-psychedelic tunes like Got a Feeling, Walk Back and No Future. And although most of the lyrics are on the gloomy side, this record still has an uplifting effect.

Melting Right Before Your Eyes is out now digitally (self-released).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Gramercy Arms || Deleted Scenes

Gramercy Arms is the New York City-based musical collective fronted by singer-songwriter Dave Derby. Although the list of guests* who contributed to the group’s new (third) album Deleted Scenes is longer than many of our reviews, the ten songs here form an organic whole. A lot of hard work has gone into this, according to Derby’s explanation: “Every step of this record has been about collaboration. Before we started, Ray Ketchem and I documented our vision for how the record should be. We wanted it to be simple, melodic, powerful and beautifully recorded.” Mission accomplished. This is quality indie folk-pop, rich and warm, atmospheric and melancholic.

Deleted Scenes, produced by Ray Ketchem, is out now digitally through Magic Door Record Label. *Featuring performances by Lloyd Cole, Kevin March (Guided by Voices, Shudder to Think), Doug Gillard (Guided by Voices, Nada Surf), Sean Eden (Luna, Elk City), Mark Lizotte (Diesel), Phoebe Summersquash (Small Factory), Rainy Orteca (Joan As Police Woman), Renee LoBue (Elk City, Flowers of America), Kendall Meade (Mascott), Verena Wiesendanger (Semi Gloss), Claudia Chopek (Echo of the Ghost), John Leon (Roky Eriksen, Royal Arctic Institute), Rafa Maciejak (Lloyd Cole and the Negatives, Ivy), Hilken Mancini (Fuzzy, the Monsieurs), Richard Alwyn-Fisher (King Canutes), Mike Errico, Steve Hurley (Gigolo Aunts), Lysa Opfer (Aeon Station), Carl Baggaley (Royal Arctic Institute, Elk City), Peter Hess (The Hold Steady), Gary Burton (Dovedale).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Sharp Pins || Turtle Rock

Sharp Pins is a solo project by Kai Slater of Lifeguard. It may be right up your alley if you like your indie rock with lo-fi production and a lot of pop sensibilities. The Turtle Rock Cassette oozes rock’n’roll and indie rock nostalgia. Slater’s songwriting seems informed by a wealth of influences, from Beatles to GBV, from Bright Eyes to Someone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin and everything in between. Tape available through Hallogallo Tapes.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Roofman || Still The Mess I Was

Roofman doesn’t waste any time: in the very first second of his full-length debut album Still The Mess I Was we immediately get acquainted with his voice and poetic lyrics. We’re talking about Dutch singer-songwriter Thijs van der Meulen, living somewhere in a wooded area in the middle of the country, where he takes the words ‘idyllic’ and ‘melancholic’ to great heights with his songs. Together with his brother Pim van der Meulen (drums) and American session musicians Rhett Shull (guitar) and Philip Conrad (bass) he recorded eleven of those indie pop/folk tracks with sharp rock edges, musing about love, nature and his everyday observations/thoughts (“Put my soul in a song // Just to kill some time” – from Killing Time). Wonderful how the vocals and sound sketch an atmosphere that takes you to another world. This is a beautiful scenic record, anything but messy, rather one for which the term ‘perfect’ has been coined.

Still The Mess I Was, very well produced by Johann Scheerer and with cover art by Julian Deleij, is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Clouds Hill.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Clouds Hill

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