Indie Pop

New album: Guppy || Big Man Says Slappydoo

Californian mall rock trio Guppy turned heads with In The Garage (2017) and In Heat (2019), and now they’re back with their full-length album Big Man Says Slappydoo. The 11 songs here are the most ambitious, diverse and thoughtful to date by Julia Lebow (guitar, vocals), Marc Babcock (bass, vocals) and Ian Cohen (drums, vocals), very well produced by Illuminati Hotties’ Sarah Tudzin, also heard on keyboards.

Probably primed by the colorful and cuddly cover art, the first 37 seconds of the awesome opening track Aliens make you think it’s music for kids, but after that it quickly becomes clear that this isn’t meant for their ears. This is colorful indie pop / garage rock in which the punk roots of the band members still seep through, although doo-wop influences are just as easily embedded. Listening evokes many different associations – fun, quirky, humorous, explicit, sensitive, painful, danceable, sentimental, awkward, happy, noisy, theatrical, etc. – but these alternate from one moment to the next, just as the fine melodies and compelling vocals surprise time and again.

Big Man Says Slappydoo is out now digitally and on vinyl LP through Lauren Records.

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

New single: Qwam || Little Bliss

IDC stands for I Don’t Care. It’s the A-side of Qwam’s (Brooklyn, NY) latest single and it’s a major hit with a chorus that you’ll be singing along to before you know it. It’s a pop punk anthem that is easy to relate to after a two year pandemic. Qwam’s bass player Eddie Kuspiel explains: “I wrote this when I was pretty apathetic about everything and hadn’t been upset or genuinely excited about anything in a while. It annoyed me because I don’t like to play anything cool and it felt like the world was on fire on a large scale and a small scale but I was indifferent. So I tried to write about things that did make me mad, like environmental depletion and my knees hurting because I’m getting old.” That sense of indifference and dread juxtaposes nicely with the upbeat and energetic quality of the song. Not giving a fuck usually doesn’t sound this much fun.

The flipside Little Bliss is less direct, more alt/indiepop oriented, and equally great. This is a must get single with great artwork by Isabel Moore that works even better with the vinyl color variants – I am particularly eyeing the Grapefruit Splash variant. Little Bliss is out now through Reta Records!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Nectar || No Shadow

Nectar’s sophomore album No Shadow is a fine example of artwork drawing you in, music making you stay.

Let’s start with the art. Painted by Nectar’s own Kamila Glowacki over a period of four months, it’s a modern realism piece easy to mistake for a photo from a distance and I think it looks great. If you love displaying album art in your home, you can’t go wrong with purchasing this record. If you do, as a bonus you get ten indie punk and altpop tunes that were created equally meticulous. I particularly like the more upbeat/punchy stuff of Nectar, and songs like Routine, Scab, TMF, and Unusal You are strong nominees for your Spring/Summer playlists.

No Shadow is out now through Lauren Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Lauren Records

New album: Say Sue Me || The Last Thing Left

It’s been more than four years since South Korean indie pop/rock quartet Say Sue Me (세이수미) released Where We Were Together, an album that has made quite a few rounds on my record player, that even ended up at No. 2 on my 2018 year-end list. During the pandemic, when touring was not possible, Byungkyu Kim (lead guitar), Sumi Choi (vocals, rhythm guitar), Jaeyoung Kim (bass) and Sungwan Lim (drums) quietly started working on a new full-length, and here’s the result. Self-recorded and self-produced at the band’s own Busan studio, The Last Thing Left is more subdued and less bouncy than its successful predecessor – a sign of the times but also of maturing, I guess (“Nobody seems to care for truth // I’m getting far from my youth” – from Around You). The 10 new songs, leaning heavily on themes of love, loss, loneliness, grief and healing (the band’s original drummer, Semin Kang, passed away in 2019), need a few listens to win you over. The charm, melancholy and brightness have remained though, just like the angelic vocals and jangly guitar melodies (with surf and twang twists). This is timeless music to cherish, music that can comfort you at any time.

The Last Thing Left is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Damnably Records and Beach Town Music.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: The OK Nines || Sunwoofer

The OK Nines are a new band from Berkeley (California), who play a brand of ’90s mid-fi indie rock and altpop that is delightfully jangly and slightly twee. Songs like I Am A Dog and 1,000,000 Treats show a lot of potential and hint upon great things to come for The OK Nines.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Peter The Human Boy || Stranger’s Life

Fans of Mac DeMarco, Boy Pablo and No Vacation will definitely love this too! Vienna-based singer-songwriter / multi-instrumentalist Peter Mathis aka Peter The Human Boy is back with his sophomore album Stranger’s Life. Listening to these 10 slacker-rock tracks is like giving yourself a present: summery and down to earth music with unforgettable melodies and hopeful messages that makes you feel good. It’s 37 minutes and 44 seconds of dreamy indie pop with jangly guitars, vintage synthesizers, comforting vocals, and melancholic lyrics. Between the lines you can hear the aftermath of the pandemic (“Strange times // Why don’t you // Pass by // Give me back // My life”), but overall Peter’s quest for certainty about himself and the world is promising and optimistic. Don’t we all live a stranger’s life? Press play below: you’re in for a treat!

Stranger’s Life is out now digitally, on cassette and vinyl LP through Chalkpit Cassette Club and Human Music.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Human Music

New album: The Stroppies || Levity

I know the city of Melbourne is overrepresented on our site, but believe me when I say we’re not paying geographical favors, it’s all about the music. And The Stroppies are not just any Melbourne band, they are yet another GREAT Melbourne band.

On Levity, The Stroppies’ latest record, they sound more experimental than before, taking their jangly indierock into different territories. Part of this is due to the pandemic and writing music individually and in isolation, whereas previously the song ideas were build in collobaration. Underneath the increasingly complex instrumentation remains the pop sensibility of The Stroppies and the slack guitar work. The end result is a strong mix of growers and instant hits. If you are looking for quick rewards, listen to songs like The Perfect Crime, Up To My Elbows and Figure Eights. If you like to be challenged and be rewarded for your patience, listen to songs like Material Condition or Caveats. Or even better yet, listen to the whole thing!

Levity is out now through Tough Love Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

Gimme 5! Evan Seurkamp (The Laughing Chimes) Shares 4 Classic Inspiration Albums And 1 Newer One More People Should Hear

With ‘Gimme 5!’ we take a peek into the collections of artists we admire. The premise is simple: artists WE like share five records THEY love.

Evan Seurkamp is a young but ambitious and prolific singer/songwriter/guitarist from Southeast Ohio (US). I guess that he himself doesn’t realize yet how talented he is: in no time he has built up a high-quality body of work that would have made him a big name if he had lived in the 80s. Evan (pictured right) and his brother Quinn (left) together make up The Laughing Chimes, one of our favorite discoveries last year. Their addictive debut LP In This Town – tuneful jangle pop – ended up high on our year-end lists, and on the single Laurel Heights Court that followed they manage to maintain that level. Evan also started the project Patches (along with RKC and Aaron Griffin), which released their debut full-length Tales We Heard From the Fields – noisy post-punk – early 2022. And then he also has quite a bit of songs to his name solo, most recently the album Cruising In Your Bliss Car – folky indie pop – in 2021.

We’re talking about a rare artist with a good ear for melody, who knows how to convert everyday observations and abstract thoughts into relatable lyrics. Recorded lo-fi in his small bedroom studio space, his musical stories about life in a small town, the adventures of the house cat or the feelings that come with growing up, continually leave us in amazement. We wondered what Evan himself is listening to, and he was kind enough to answer that question in detail.

New album: The Hazmats || Empty Rooms

Unsatisfied with limiting themselves to one band or one specific sound, or so it seems, Chubby And The Gang keeps branching out in different entities. Among the list are ATW favorites Boss and The Chisel, but the list keeps growing. The newest side-project is The Hazmats, which takes a whole different sonic direction. The label states about the band: “they’ve clearly been reaching for their Teenage Fanclub LP’s, C-86 comp and The Clouds 7″s.”

Sure, The Hazmats two song 7″ single (out now through Static Shock Records) arguably is the most poppy of before mentioned acts. What stands out though is the top notch songwriting. This is how you do fuzzy and punky indie pop. More of where this came from please!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

Dusted || The 10 Best Cover Songs Of April 2022

Not all new music is really new, as many artists cover songs. Sometimes these are songs by their favorite artists, eg as a tribute to such a musical hero for a special reason, or they simply feel that a song deserves to be dusted and polished to reacquaint fans with great songs from the past. Other times, bands cover songs as a parody. Regardless of intent, some of those cover versions are so good or so much fun, we’d like to put a spotlight on them. Chosen from a wide range, here are – in random order – ten of our favorite covers from last month – links to the pages where you can add them to your wantlist included.

In April we checked out George Is Lord’s My Sweet George (10 George Harrison songs), Phonophore Records’ All Good Kids (a tribute compilation with various artists doing 28 Guided By Voices tracks), The Greyboy Allstars’ Get A Job (10 funky covers that have become an integral part of the band’s famed live sets), Edgar Winter’s Brother Johnny (an all-star musical love letter to Johnny Winter), The William Loveday Intention’s Paralysed By The Mountains (Billy Childish calls his You Gotta Move cover, featuring his wife Julie and Dave Tattersall, one of his best recordings ever), and Willie Nelson’s 72th(!) album A Beautiful Time (with tunes of The Beatles and Leonard Cohen). We’ve already written about LPs by The Surfrajettes and The Sellwoods with some fun cover versions on it. And then there also were 20+ other releases that would be worth mentioning, but as always, we’re limiting ourselves to the 10 best.

It’s Not Love, But It’s Not Bad || Cover: Eli Paperboy Reed || Original: Merle Haggard and The Strangers
On his new full-length album Down Every Road (out digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Yep Roc Records), American soul shouter Eli Paperboy Reed pays homage to country legend Merle Haggard by putting a soulful spin on 12 of his classic country tunes. Thanks to Reed’s distinctive, powerful vocals and the groove of Mike Montgomery (bass) and Noah Rubin (drums), the new versions gain in expressiveness, which is certainly reflected in It’s Not Love, But It’s Not Bad (this one isn’t written by Merle Haggard by the way, but by Glenn Martin & Hank Cochran). Those who pre-ordered the LP or CD in time, received a 7″ single with an almost unrecognizable take on Motörhead’s Ace of Spades.

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