Indie Pop

New album: Hot Wheels || Sun Blonde

It’s easy to be misled by the band name Hot Wheels and the sleeve of their full-length debut album Sun Blonde. It turns out to be a solo project by Los Angeles-based painter and musician Dan Bruinooge, who previously played with bands such as Sylvie, Golden Daze, Vinyl Williams and Stacey. The cover features his 2019 painting Faith, plus lyrics from the title track: “I can’t shake this feeling // Like this day isn’t real // Sun Blonde as she shines down // Know just how I feel.” You’ll hear psychedelic indie pop, a kind of quiet and partly instrumental, sliding between new age drones and nostalgic surf rock, where the atmosphere it evokes seems more important than the actual meaning – like a summer counterpart to the soundtrack from Twin Peaks. Warm melancholia as impressionistic art.

Sun Blonde is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP, through Earth Libraries. Written, composed and performed Dan Bruinooge, produced in collaboration with Lionel Williams.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Earth Libraries

New album: Small Town Jones || Kintsugi

Kintsugi, which translates as golden joinery, is the Japanese art of repairing broken ceramics with gold or silver lacquer, based on the idea that cracks are like scars telling their own story. It’s a perfect metaphor for the fragile music of Devon-based singer-songwriter Jim Jones, who borrows the title and cover art from the refined technique for his fourth full-length album under the moniker of Small Town Jones. The fantastic premise is expressed in eleven subdued Americana songs, both musically and lyrically atmospheric and sensitive: “Faith and loss, hope and doubt // Uncertain unseen, with or without // Has the wild goose taken its flight // The path between the mist and the light.” Obviously, perfection is not the goal here – unexpected arrangements and connections make this record even more fascinating – but it comes close. The standout opening track in particular is one to hold on to: “Oh there’s got to be better days.”

Kintsugi, produced by Mike Reed, is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP, trough Broken Sea Records. The ceramic heart of the cover photo was created by Taz Pollard.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Guppy || Something is Happening​.​.​.

“Hey audience here comes the show // Your favorite band that no one knows // And I’m just hoping we don’t choke // Yeah I’m just hoping we don’t choke.” Los Angeles-based mall rock band Guppy makes it clear that we still shouldn’t see them as a big fish. Although with Something is Happening​.​.​. they have released their fourth full-length album, two years after the very nice Big Man Says Slappydoo LP, their sound is still as idiosyncratic and infectious as before. The attractive garage pop of J Lebow (guitar, vocals, keys, percussion), Marc Babcock (bass, vocals, keys, guitar), Ian Cohen (drums, vocals, keys, percussion) and new band member Kabir Kumar (guitar, vocals, keys, percussion) may seem a little less exuberant (or more mature), but lyrics like “I ate my own homework // The dog made me do it” and “I’m digging up worms // I’m taking them to church” will still bring a smile to both old and young.

Something is Happening​.​.​. is out now digitally and on vinyl LP trough Lauren Records. Also featuring Sarah Tudzin (keys, vocals), who produced and engineered the record. Tyler English (pedal steel) and Deana Kiner (flute) guest on selected tracks.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Lauren

New album: Crumbs || You’re Just Jealous

Crumbs are an irresistible indie-pop-mixed-with-post-punk band from Leeds, UK, featuring Ruth Gilmore (vocals), Stuart Alexander (guitar), Jamie Wilson (bass) and songwriter Gem Prout (drums). Their 2017 debut LP Mind Yr Manners (on Everything Sucks) finally gets a successor with You’re Just Jealous (on Skep Wax). Above all, these twelve new songs are bursting with motivation and expressiveness – the meters that indicate the energy level go way into the red. The guitar riffs are urgent but melodic, the rhythm section is unstoppable but tight, the vocals are charismatic but infectious. Breathtaking.

You’re Just Jealous is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP, through Skep Wax Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Skep Wax

New single: The Cords || Bo’s New Haircut / Rather Not Stay

Ready for some charming and catchy C86 coolness? On the lookout for something new and twee? Meet The Cords from Scotland aka the sister duo Eva and Grace Tedeschi who, based on this two-song single they just dropped, seemed destined to become the next indie pop darlings from the Glasgow music scene. I, for one, can’t seem to stop playing it.

Cassingle out now through Heavenly Creature Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Local Drags || City In A Room

Shortly after releasing that excellent new James Sullivan LP, Stardumb Records is back with another label sound-expanding record. City In A Room, the fourth album from Local Drags – the solo project of Lanny Durbin (of Starter Jackets and Attic Salt), marks a significant departure from the label’s original pop punk blueprint as well as Local Drags’ 2019 debut. To be sure, it is still very much a Local Drags record and the stripped-down alt-poppin’ power pop sound is still here, but its scope is much broader. City In A Room showcases more than a little influence from Paul Westerberg, with shades of Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen as well. While Durbin’s voice may not directly compare to these three legends, his songs exude the same heart, soul, and craftsmanship.

Local Drags are perfectly at home in their newfound sound. As always, Durbin’s earworm vocal melodies take center stage. His songs may not be complex at their core, but his songwriting has that sneaky-good quality, grabbing you when you least expect it. By now, I believe that anytime Durbin picks up a guitar, he’ll write something I like. All of his records made my album of the year lists, and without a doubt, City In A Room is as enjoyable and relatable of an album as anything in his songbook.

CD and LP (with different cover art) out now through Stardumb, and streaming everywhere. LP comes with a 24 page short story collection by Lanny Durbin. Can’t wait to check that one out as well.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp (TBR) || Stardumb || Discogs

New album: The Lemon Twigs || A Dream Is All We Know

The criminally talented and hardworking brothers, Brian and Michael D’Addario, take us straight back to the heyday of late ’60s psych-pop and ’70s power pop on A Dream Is All We Know, their latest Lemon Twigs LP. The album lands squarely in the territory of the Kinks, Raspberries, Beach Boys, Byrds, and Big Star.

A Dream Is All We Know has been garnering rave reviews worldwide, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s a record of rare and special quality. I am going to keep it short by highlighting my favorite track on the record: My Golden Years — a song so fantastically constructed and impeccably executed, I can’t stop hitting the replay button. Every second of it is pure joy, and the song alone makes the LP worth every penny. It’s a shining example of how new gems can still be added to the power pop canon.

A Dream Is All We Know is out now on LP/CS/CD at Captured Tracks

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New single: Autocamper || Blanche / Budge

Some tracks only need 5 seconds to grab you, and the lead track from Autocamper’s latest single does just that. With a simple guitar riff kicking things off, Blanche wastes no time in getting you hooked. As the rest of the instruments join in a couple of seconds later on this upbeat number, it’s clear that this is right up my alley. The feeling persists with the second track, Budge, although it took me about 10 seconds longer to fully realize it. Gently strummed guitars, a catchy keyboard lick, and the laid-back yet melancholic vocals of Niamh Purtill, who reminds me a little of Courtney Barnett, meld together to elevate the track to great heights.

We’ve covered Autocamper before, and our enthusiasm for this band only continues to grow. This is indie pop bliss straight out of Manchester while Autocamper fits in seamlessly with Melbourne bands we adore like Chook Race, Dick Diver and Twerps.

The cassingle is already sold out at Safe Suburban Home, but streaming everywhere.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Mvshroom People || Mvshroom People

And now for something completely different. Mvshroom People are four Australian kids who surprise with nine nice tunes full of curiosity and creativity. These are demos that come across as rough sketches, primitive and wobbly, but actually that’s a big part of the charm and authenticity, especially given the good ideas and original approach. Harper Smith, Henry Beeston, Frida Leigh-Young and Sadie Leigh-Young may be too young to go on Year 8 Camp, but that doesn’t stop them to play a set of fascinating art-pop. Jazzy beat poetry with an imaginative saxophone and honest vocals, pretty cool.

Mvshroom People’s self-titled demos album – almost 18 minutes long – is out now digitally through Via Satellite / Half A Cow Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Shannon and The Clams || The Moon Is In The Wrong Place

Describing the latest Shannon and The Clams LP as anything less than bittersweet and emotionally profound would be selling it short, but finding precise words to capture its essence, man it’s hard! The band’s seventh LP, and third recorded at Dan Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound Studio, kicks off with The Vow – a poignant ballad originally penned by Shannon Shaw as a surprise for her late fiancé, Joe Haener, tragically lost in an accident just before their wedding. Even without this backstory, the weight of grief is palpable. But it permeates not just thoughThe Vow, it resonates throughout the entirety of The Moon Is In The Wrong Place.

The LP is a record of scars and hope, a heartfelt homage that delicately probes open wounds while simultaneously offering solace and affirmation of life’s enduring spirit. Words may fail to fully describe its power and depth, but this album stands as a testament to the band’s unwavering creativity and evolution. It’s a remarkable addition to their tremendous discography, blending the familiar elements that initially drew fans in with a newfound sense of maturity and growth. The Moon Is In The Wrong Place is out now through Easy Eye Sound.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

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