Indie Pop

New album: Gabriella Cohen || Blue No More

Australian singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist (and actress) Gabriella Cohen has released her third full-length album, Blue No More. It’s  poppier than the music we usually share here, but it has so many appealing elements that I don’t want to withhold it from you. You’ll hear pinches of country, folk, blues, and gospel, but also influences from indie pop, 60’s girl groups, and even glam rock. The 10 songs may be genre-transcending, but are always soulful, warm and laidback. Side A is energetic and contains the hits, with earworm I Just Got So High as the greatest test of aptitude, on side B the tempo is reduced with dreamy, cinematic ballads in which synths and soundscapes appear. If you want some variety from the riffing guitars we’ll be writing about for the rest of the week, you should check this out.

Blue No More is out now digitally and on vinyl LP. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp 

New album: Kids On A Crime Spree || Fall In Love Not In Line

Has it really been ten years since Kids On A Crime Spree emerged seemingly out of nowhere with their debut (mini)LP We Love You So Bad? It was love at first sight. An one-sided love perhaps, because the three-piece has been playing hard to get in the past decade, only releasing a handful of songs on three singles, two of which were splits with different bands.

No hard feelings though, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and all that. But seriously, Fall In Love Not In Line was worth the wait. The reverb heavy bubblegum powerpop of these ten songs surely will create some tsunami sized waves in the underground pop scene. The opening combo of Karl Kardel Building and When Can I See You Again? alone is worth the price of admission. All Things Fade and Boomdoom are also standouts, but you won’t find any fillers on Fall In Love Not In Line. Whatever they do, Kids On A Crime Spree make it sound all so spontaneous and effortless, almost like they can’t help writing hits like these.

What a week for Slumberland Records who simultaneously released that amazing Artsick record last Friday. If this is the bar for the good kind of pop music in 2022, we’re in for a treat.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New EP: The Caroline’s || On My Way To U

Indonesion Twee pop band The Caroline’s is making my heart beat faster with their first EP. The four songs on On My Way To U are upbeat but they feel melancholic due to the dreamy awesomeness of the band’s vocalist. I have a sense that this won’t be the last time we’ll be hearing from this band.

On My Way To U is out now on Paska Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Kung-Fu Girl || Sunset Park

I’d like to nominate Sunset Park by Japanese four-piece Kung-Fu Girl as the most fun release of 2022 yet. Sunset Park is the follow-up to the band’s 2019 self-titled debut – a record I regretfully overlooked. On Sunset Park, Kung-Fu Girl have found the perfect synergy between the cute charm of indie pop and the energy and upbeat quality of pop punk.

Kung-Fu Girl namedrops Tiger Trap, Dressy Bessy, Tallulah Gosh, Go Sailor and The Apples In Stereo as influences, which at the very least showcases their good taste. While good taste doesn’t automatically translate in good music, in the case of Kung-Fu Girl you need not worry about that all. Call it poppy indie punk or punky indie pop, or whatever; If you like energetic pop music with warmth, a pulse and an edge, Sunset Park will make your day!

Ghost Girl Friend and Rabuka, just two of the many hits on Sunset Park, may sound familiar since earlier versions of the songs were part of a cassingle from 2021  – that cassingle also included a cool cover of a GBV classic by the way. The updated versions of the songs sound crisp and fun, but Sunset Park has many songs equally great or even better, like Yesterday, 8 Minutes Of Magic, and hhltm.

Sunset Park is out now on CD at Testcard Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Joy Cleaner || Spent Flowers

Since their 2017 debut (Total Hell), I’ve been enjoying Joy Cleaner’s balancing act between ’90s alt pop and classic indie rock. For a moment, I thought Spent Flowers, which was released last Friday, was the band’s third album. Then I noticed the subtitle 2015-2020, and read the fine lines: Spent Flowers is an odds-and-ends collection with songs from cassingles, flexidiscs, digital only releases and compilations. To top it off, there are four previously unreleashed tracks.

In a literal sense, Spent Flowers may be a compilation album – not unlike Superchunk’s Tossing Seeds, but to me it feels like the band’s third album anyway. This is far from a collection of throwaways, and the sequencing gives the album a natural flow. Easter Tuesday and Car Crashing Through The Door are just some of the gems included on this record, but there are many more.

Order now on vinyl at Jigsaw Records. RIYL: The Lemonheads, Guided By Voices, Connections.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Jigsaw Records

New Single: Aiko El Grupo || Niños Furbito Y Niñas Lo Que Sea

Madrid-based twee punks Aiko El Grupo kick off the new year with a two-song (digital only) single. The title track and accompanying video, with its playful take on high-school stereotypes, has FUN written all over it . Flipside La Seli is a bit more mellow but further proof that this four-piece is still getting better with each release.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Tampopo || Magic Noodles

And now for something completely Twee…Magic Noodles by Danish three piece Tampopo. Most, if not all of the songs were written and recorded solo by Kasper Clemmensen in 2017 and 2018, and you can find the early versions of these songs on Bandcamp. On Magic Noodles, Clemmensen rerecorded the songs with the latest version of Tampopo including Ditte Duus and Morten Hougaard.

To my ears, the rerecorded songs are a major upgrade over the originals. Released on the final day of 2021, Magic Noodles is a great jangle pop/twee pop/C86 record full of sweet and catchy underground pop songs. I could reference comparables, but why not listen for yourself? You’ll know within a minute if this is for you. For me? Yes! With a capital Y, that is!

Make sure to also read Janglepophub’s post on the record – if you like this record and haven’t bookmarked that site yet, you are in for a treat.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: ABC Gum || Woodshed

I have to admit I forgot about Bloomington (Indiana) based ABC Gum. The band released a highly enjoyable record a couple of years ago on Let’s Pretend Records. It was called The New Arcade, and was full of scrappy underground bubblegum pop tunes straight from the garage.

Apparently, ABC Gum recorded a followup shortly after, supposedly slated for release by Classic Trash. That never happened, but now, seemingly out of nowhere the record (Woodshed) has surfaced on Bandcamp. Is it any good? YES! I continues on the path of The New Arcade, but the songs and instrumentation are more diverse and layered. It’s still very much underground bubblegum pop though. Hits!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

Music Year-End List || Dennis’ Favorite Singles and EP’s of 2021

You’ve already seen our lists with favorite albums – here‘s Niek’s list and there‘s mine – but also many shorter format releases were wantlist worthy. Below you can listen to an overview of the Top 50 singles and EPs that I thought were the best from 2021. I’ve excluded releases with songs that also appear on my album list. Links point to Discogs or Bandcamp (the headings), and to previously posted reviews (in the body text) – add to your wantlist (or collection) what you like!

1. Noah C Lekas || Sounds From The Shadow Factory
[Beat Poetry, US || Blind Owl] To be honest I haven’t been able to give this one as much attention as I would have liked. Not only because I mainly spent my time on full-length albums, but also for practical reasons: only two songs are shared on Bandcamp, YouTube, Soundcloud and Spotify, and unfortunately a physical copy wasn’t available in Europe (and sold out quickly in the US). Still, I didn’t doubt for a moment whether this should be at the top, simply because this was the most impressive release of the past year in all respects. Poems and rock music form a great combination here: “It’s jazz for the mind // It’s blues for the soul.” It’s Art!

New EP: Styrofawn || Abandonism

Please meet Mert Karaca, who just released his debut EP Abandonism under the moniker of Styrofawn. In the past his perfectionism got in the way, and he never thought his music was good enough, but a Leonardo da Vinci quote – “Art is never finished, only abandoned” – took away his reluctance to share his work with the world. In fact, the independent artist from Turkey now dived into the imperfection of lo-fi bedroom pop, and in no time he managed to write, play, arrange, record, produce, mix, and master these five shaky songs. Mert sent me an email asking if they’re good enough, and that you’re reading this means I replied positively. Uncertainty is not necessary – I really like this sound, with jangly guitars, appealing melodies, and slightly distorted vocals, and there’s nothing wrong with the lyrics either. With this talent and work ethic, we could be hearing a lot more good stuff from Styrofawn in the future. RIYL: Castlebeat, Acid Ghost, Juan Wauters.

“Some things take time // Some come out of the blue // A flash of lightning and I’m // Smitten with you”

Abandonism is out now digitally. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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