Indie Pop

New album: Lake Artifik || Dream Park

Listen, I found another gem! Close your eyes and let yourself be enchanted by the nine songs that make up Dream Park. It’s a coming of age album that 23 year old Swiss musician Carlos E. Cordero made under the acronym Lake Artifik, with a sound driven by acoustic guitar compositions merged with layers of textures and ambiences, with intimate and cryptic lyrics. Slightly sad, but intriguing and not depressing.

To gain more insight into the mystery of Lake Artifik, I asked Carlos how the tracks came about. He explains: ‘After having spent time with my close friends and family, I felt strongly isolated and nostalgic when entering my apartment in Berlin, realizing that I might not be able to return soon because of the traveling restrictions due to the pandemic. Slowly I began to dwell into memories of my youth there and the people that surrounded me then, the anxieties I feel facing the passage to adulthood. Essentially, I felt that there were many things I had on my mind that I needed to excavate in order to move on. I wrote each song with a clear episode in mind, something that I recalled from my past and meant something special to me. There were those flashbacks that I kept dreaming about and left me miserable as soon as I woke up, because they were just fragments from a past time that I couldn’t affect anymore. In a way I guess it helped me put my (short) life into perspective and realize that I had been living many things for the past 23 years.’

Over a period of five months the project was entirely written, produced, recorded, mixed and mastered by Carlos himself in his apartment, he even designed the accompanying artworks – each song has its own image, all just as beautiful as the songs itself. The ultimate DIY project, very impressive.

“What if I’d know what I know now? // What if I’d done everything right? // What if we’d had a whole other time? // I guess I could leave you behind” (52100)

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: Dan Wriggins || Mr. Chill

American songwriter / musician / poet / lobster fisher Dan Wriggins previously played in alt-country band Friendship, but the EP Mr. Chill is his debut release under his own name (despite the title, this is not chill-out music – the artist explains that it has a different origin: ‘I’ve gotten “hey man, your music is so chill “a lot, and I’m like what the fuck? I thought it was dire’). These are five songs with quiet drums, classical guitar, and melodic organ (but no bass), five songs that had to sound like Kath Bloom or Vic Chesnutt, and that worked out quite well. Out now through Orindal Records on cassette (with previous single Dent / The Diner as bonus tracks) and digitally.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Max And The Martians || All The Same

Contrary to what most of my posts suggest, I DO occasionally enjoy music that is a little more subtle, quiet or introspective. Take this new record by Max And The Martians. First impression: ‘this is not bad at all, and somewhat sounds like a mix of Purple Mountains and Sonny And The Sunsets. This deserves another listen.’ Second take: It’s saturday morning, I am reading the paper, drinking coffee. And this record just clicks – another illustration of how contexdependent our experience of music is. This record has an old time mellow feel to it, like it is a long lost classic pop record. The music and voice of Max Bien-Kahn (the mastermind behind this band) oozes sadness and melancholy, but the music is not depressive. It is a contrast that made the Purple Mountains LP so devastating, and applies here as well. Listen to the upbeat Milky Way (video below) for example – “Gonna Lose My Mind // Before It Runs Away.” Remember listening to music with the lyric sheet on your lap? This is the kind of record that warrants a return to that habit. With All The Same you get great music, great lyrics. Oh, and great videos as well. On the Wantlist already!

That leaves us with one question:  Who are these Martians? It’s a an all star cast of rotating backing musicians. If you want to deep dive into their musical backgrounds, they are Esther Rose (who has a new record I am excited about coming out soon), Ross Farbe and Ray Micarelli (Video Age), Jordan Odom (Gold Star), Shaye Cohn (Tuba Skinny), Duff Thompson, Camille Weatherford (The Lostines), and Steph Green (Carver Baronda).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

Throwback Thursday: Gambles || So I Cry Out

Max García Conover’s new song Sad, Babe, which I wrote about yesterday, reminded me of singer / songwriter / visual artist Matthew Daniel Siskin’s debut album Trust (2013) under the moniker Gambles. I played the CD a lot at the time (and still do now and then); how one man can give you goosebumps with only an acoustic guitar and a grinding voice. Watch the beautiful video of So I Cry Out, one of the album’s standout songs. So sad, at the same time so desirable.

Add to wantlist: Discogs

New single: Max García Conover || Sad, Babe

Max García Conover is an American singer / songwriter who releases a new song every month or so, almost all equally beautiful. In February, he sang World War 3 Is Gonna Be So Dumb – impressive but not really cheerful. Now in March the track Sad, Babe follows – an equally gloomy song, but as the lyrics describe it well: ‘sadder than sad but not in a bad way’. Beautiful! At times that is exactly what we need. If you are in that mood: there is a Spotify playlist with more songs like this.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Fake Fruit || Fake Fruit

Rocks In Your Head is a record label from San Francisco founded by Sonny Smith. I am a huge Sonny (and the Sunsets) fan, and I am excited by the early goings of this label, which clearly reflects Sonny’s broad musical tastes and knack for experimentation. Rocks In Your Head has already put out a solid compilation and albums by The Gonks and Galore and the most recent Sonny and The  Sunsets record. This week, the label released a debut by a band that probaby will release their next album on a much bigger label. Not because Rocks In Your Head is not a good fit, but because the band sounds like they are on the verge of breaking out to a bigger (huge?) audience. I am talking about Fake Fruit, whose self-titled record sounds chaotic yet focused, messy yet confident. The album is full of cool guitar riffs, and frontwoman Hannah D’Amato strikes just the right balance between singing and howling that works perfectly for this type of music. On the great opening track No Mutuals, there is a sonic similarity to Sleater Kinney, and album closer Milkman sounds like a Parquet Courts jam, but throughout the record, Fake Fruit have very much created their own niche. It’s a dynamic and diverse corner of the planet, with start-stop postpunk (Miscommunication, No Space For Residence), garagerock (Old Skin, Don’t Put It On Me), and indie rock balladry (Keep You, and the delightful Stroke My Ego). Don’t sit on this one folks!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Har Mar Superstar || Roseville

Sean Tillman aka Har Mar Superstar is one of those beloved illustrious artists who make the music business so entertaining. Anyone who has attended one of his many sweaty over-the-top live shows will never forget him. Although he has been performing for over 20 years and has recorded several albums, I have only been a fan since Bye Bye 17 (2013), with the awesome soul single Lady, You Shot Me. Seventh studio album Roseville has just been released, a career-defining culmination of life and musical experiences, influenced by ’70s stars like Todd Rundgren, Elton John, Carole King, Hall & Oates, and ELO, to name a few (it’s a combination of soul, r&b, and pop – some new songs also remind me of Stevie Wonder, Prince and even The Beach Boys). It’s the first true collaborative effort of the whole touring band: Sean Tillmann (vocals, piano, bass), Aaron Baum (synths, organs, cello, guitar), Ryan Mach (drums, guitar, keys), Nelson Devereaux (clarinet, flute , whistle, bass, sax), Jake Baldwin (trumpet, mellophone, flugelhorn), Adam Hurlburt (bass, synths), Ethan Elseth (guitars, piano), accompanied by various guest musicians. ‘Destination was a place to hide // But somehow you got yourself inside my head instead,’ Har Mar Superstar sings in Where We Began, and that’s what happens with these songs when you listen to this mature and coherent trip.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs || Har Mar Superstar Webstore

New EP: Sanya N’Kanta || These Are The Days

Every now and then the personal “Discover Weekly” playlist that Spotify automatically generates makes you turn up the music, then you discover something that you haven’t heard before but is worth your attention. Such is the case with Waste My Time, a beautiful song from Sanya N’Kanta‘s new (digital) EP These Are the Days. Accompanied by an acoustic guitar, the Jamaican born artist / producer sings with his great falsetto that ‘the hard lesson to learn in life is that some friends come and go’ and you can’t help but cry along with the person being addressed.

New album: Model Village || World Of Carp

UK jangle pop veterans Model Village open their fourth record (World Of Carp) strongly with Insufferable. It’s a welcoming indie pop track that will instantly make your head bop on its bouncy rhythm. Other standout tracks on World of Carp include the upbeat Oslo and Find It Out, and the Belle and Sebastianesque Roll It Over. Singer Lily Rose has the ability to draw you into these songs while making her singing sound effortless. She has just the right touch of melancholy in her voice, not unlike Tracyanne Campbell of Camera Obscura and Elizabeth Morris of Allo Darlin. Musically, fans of those bands will enjoy this record as well. Out now on Kingfisher Bluez (Canada) and Towed By The Ghost (UK)!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New single: Texpack || The Early Serenade

Let’s add Indonesia to our ever expanding list of fine music from around the Globe. To be more specific, let’s go to Bogor, Jakarta where Texpack recently released a three song EP called The Early Serenade. If you like alternative ’90’s pop, you will definitely enjoy this one. Never having heard of Texpack before, I mistakenly thought on the title track that Texpack was a new shoegaze project by Davey Von Bohlen (Cap’n Jazz, The Promise Ring, Maritime). The second track, Between 4 and 10 is a classic indie pop single including a surprise cameo of a trumpet. Speaking of trumpets, Texpack closes the EP with a well executed cover of the Eggstone song My Trumpets. Out now on Anoa Records (Jakarta).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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