In their latest release, Chaotic Pop Records continues to captivate with a delightful blend of indie pop goodness. This time, they bring together two talented Indonesion bands (Anti. (Solo, Central Java) & Poplar Tree (Depok, West Java) with Zenxith from Newcastle (UK).
With each band contributing two tracks, the compilation offers a diverse journey through the jangle and twee pop spectrum. Despite operating from distinct points within the genre, there’s a unifying charm that will undoubtedly resonate with a broad audience of indie pop enthusiasts.
Austin, Texas’ The Infinites are no strangers to concepts. Their band name refers to the use of loops in their music, and on their 2019 debut, each of their songs centered around a different fictional person. On their second album, which is out now through Meritorio Records, each song explores a different archetype, like bureaucrats, expats, and secret agents. Hence its title, The Archetypes.
Suffice to say, The Infinites produce cerebal music that is carefully crafted and designed. Their songs unfold gradually, allowing your mind to roam without losing its way. The use of loops lends a circular quality to The Archetypes. It’s hypnotizing, but subtle. You’ll never feel stuck in a hamster wheel, you can get out whenever you’d like. But why would you want to when those guitar parts keep tickling the pleasure centres of your brain?
The Archetypes is an intriguing indie pop record that sneaks up on you. It’s out now through Madrid’s finest Meritorio Records.
Returning readers know we’re fans of Belfast-based songsmith Neil Brogan. Quality assured. Early this month he released the New Light EP, which hasn’t received as much attention as it deserves. So here we go. Opening song Line Check is the biggest earworm here, thanks to a repetitive head-nodding melody and easy-to-sing-along chorus. Title track (In a) New Light – present in two versions – is also bursting with charm, and on Outside Chance you can dance like no one is watching. This is uplifting jangly indie pop that only strengthens our love for this prolific artist.
The New Light EP is out digitally (self-released).
Keep an ear out for Indonesian labels Chaotic Pop & Disanorak, because their releases will activate your appetite for underground pop music. For their latest release, the two labels tag up for a two-song split tape between Anselmus and The Sensitive.
Hailing from Tangerang, Anselmus offers up an infectious jangly and upbeat track titled lost in the noise of corporate shelf, showcasing the solo project’s undeniable charm. Meanwhile, Jakarta twee pop outfit The Sensitive serenade listeners with a gentle and introspective track titled indiepop politics. Built upon a repetitive bass line and adorned with what I assume to be either a piano/synth or guitar, the track unfolds with a soothing allure.
This short yet sweet release leaves you yearning for more.
Torrey, Reality TV and Aluminum bassist slash vocalist Ryann Gonsalves makes a memorable solo debut with Ouch!, a title that perfectly encapsulates the raw emotion of self-learning after her journey of “introspection, solitude, and sobriety.”
Even when you are unaware of the vulnerable honesty in Gonsalves’ self-reflection, her music has a spine-tingling beauty. Some songs are short, others even shorter, yet each harbors a depth beneath their seemingly straightforward exterior. Gonsalves doesn’t need a lot of instruments, notes or tones to capture the complexities of human emotion and experience, hitting you right in the gut with her minimalism – listening to Ouch! strangely reminds me of the flash fiction of Lydia Davis.
Perhaps I am overanalyzing, and it’s simply the voice of Gonsalves on this varied collection that’s got me all mesmerized – this is indie pop that feels truly original and special.
Sometimes you hear new music that’s fresh and yet immediately sounds familiar. Marcellus Hall‘s third solo album, I Will Never Let You Down, is a good example of this. It might just have to do with his rich past, as in the 90s he made waves with Railroad Jerk (chances are you remember their Rollerkoaster video, but they’ve made much more cool music), and around the turn of the millennium with White Hassle (I still play Your Language regularly, but more interesting is that Modest Mouse singer Isaac Brock had Life is Still Sweet tattooed on his arm – it was the inspiration for their 2004 hit Float On). Anyway, this is the first LP in ten years from the New York City-based singer-songwriter who is also a successful illustrator. Together with Damon Smith (bass) and Mike Shapiro (drums) he delivers twelve new songs that approach perfection, sparkling pop/rock with some elements borrowed from folk, blues, funk and crooners. The record closes with a cover of Carole King’s You’ve Got A Friend, and that’s exactly the feeling that Hall evokes here.
I Will Never Let You Down is out now digitally and on vinyl LP through Gutfeeling Records / Plastic Fork Recordings.
Very nice to witness the development of Toronto-based jangle pop duo Ducks Ltd., who have just released their sophomore full-length Harm’s Way. On 2019’s Get Bleak EP they immediately hit the mark with four fine guitar tunes (later expanded to seven songs on vinyl), on 2021’s Modern Fiction LP they played more confident in ten tracks, and in between they sharpened their sound in successful covers of heroes like The Jesus And Mary Chain, The Cure and The Feelies in The Sincerest Form Of Flattery series. The new album is the superlative of the discography to date. Evan Lewis (guitars, drum programming, bass) and Tom McGreevy (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, keys, bass) know how to convey dark subjects with a breath of fresh air. Thanks to their acquired experience and collaboration* with other musicians, the nine new original songs are richer and even more tight than ever, without losing the charm that we fell for at the time. Will they ever surpass this melodic songcraft?
“They’re songs about struggling. About watching people I care for suffer, and trying to figure out how to be there for them. And about the strain of living in the world when it feels like it’s ready to collapse.” – Tom McGreevy
Harm’s Way, produced by Dave Vettraino, is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Carpark Records / Royal Mountain Records. *Also featuring Macie Stewart (violin), Marcus Nuccio (drums), Jonathan Pappo (drums), Briar Darling (cello), Julia Steiner (vocals), Margaret McCarthy (vocals), Nathan O’Dell (vocals), Jason Balla (vocals), Linsey-Paige Mccloy (vocals), Rui De Magalhaes (vocals), Julia Wittman (bass) and Dave Vettraino (organ) on selected tracks.
The idea is good, the execution is to the point, in several respects. British twee-pop trio The Happy Somethings return with two-song single Apples & Pairs. The lyrics are clever: “I like pears // Not just the fruity ones // I like doubles, anything in couples, even puzzles.” The music is appealing: jangly guitars and a functional piano and percussion, with dreamy melodies and authentic harmony vocals. The sound is lo-fi: unpolished but summery. In short: quirky but fun.
Apples & Pairs is out now digitally (self-released).
Here’s a memorable debut from Queens, New York. Danielle Salomon started Majorette as a solo project in her bedroom, but has now blossomed in a full band. From the opening line “Am I lucky, or am I cursed // Things have gone from bad to worse,” the indie pop of Majorette will find a way to get under your skin.
The Forever Starts Tuesday EP comprises four songs that exude a blend of twee charm and contemporary allure tinged with nostalgia. Salomon’s gorgeous vocals take center stage, radiating throughout the tracks. Majorette drop all kinds of interesting tidbits, like spoken parts and the sudden incorporation of a drum machine in the mesmerizing finale Tomorrow is Forever. An exceptional debut from a very talented band!
The Caraway is a solo project by Japanese singer-songwriter Osamu Shimada, known from indie pop band Swinging Popsicle. Eighteen years ago The Caraway’s self-titled debut LP was released, and finally: here’s their sophomore album, Our Brilliant Weekend. It consists of eleven fresh guitar songs with uplifting original melodies, pleasant sun-kissed vocals and some surprising catchy hooks – eleven refreshing and cheerful moments of happiness. Let spring begin.
Our Brilliant Weekend, written/mixed/produced by Osamu Shimada, is out now digitally and on CD through blue-very label.