Indie Pop

New album: Rat Columns || Pacific Kiss

Disclaimer: two songs in, I was convinced that the latest record by Rat Columns would end up in my collection rather sooner than later. It’s hard not to love these two international jangle pop underground gems, which (coincidentally? purposefully?) are titled Hey! I Wanna Give You The World, and It’s your Time To Suffer. Track 3 is another winner (video below), almost sealing the deal. But then, the Aussie band starts to widen their sound, incorporating different instrumentations, rhythms and musical influences. It’s there where I am starting to have my doubts. The execution is convincing though and it will depend on your personal taste how you will react to the remainder of the record. There are elements I am less enthusiastic about, particularly the more danceable parts and, surprise, the parts where the band drops the pace. Conversely, there are elements that work well, I especially dig how the band opens up its sound with well-timed taps on guitar pedals adding some kickass guitar licks. All of these elements likely will pay off on bigger stages and festivals. Arguably, despite the diverse musical directions on the record, Rat Columns has never sounded so accessible without losing the appeal of their previous work. I am keeping this in rotation in the next couple of week, not unlikely that this record will be grower for me. No doubt that I will play those first three songs often this year.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Tough Love Records

New album: The Backstops || Losers

What are your thoughts about pianodriven rock music? Hate? Like? It depends? If you are a hater, you will probably dismiss The Backstops’ debut album Losers within 10 seconds. I mean, that intro sounds eerily similar to Vanessa Carlton’s A Thousand Miles right? But then again, that album cover design looks pretty sweet – we included it in our gallery of great artwork. Okay, you think, let’s give this band a try. I mean, there was that period in your life where you were a fan of Ben Folds, and now that you mention it, this sounds more like him than her. Wait, what happens? This first song becomes pretty fast and anthemic all of a sudden. And is that a guitar solo? Wait, they added a Clarence Clemonsesque sax part? This actually sounds pretty good. Okay, this next song has a strong chorus, and soft loud dynamics that work well. You are starting to get why they describe this as Piano Punk. But then, you come across a song that is a bit too dramatic for your taste, too theatrical. But still, you keep on listening, because now you are intrigued, and because this sounds different from most music that comes out today. You know what, you think…I have some friends who may like this.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

GIMME 5! || Rob Nesbitt (The Suitesixteen) Shares 5 Monumentally Important Albums That Deserve Another Look

(Photo by Wendy Nesbitt)

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

We started Gimme 5! out of curiosity and a desire to discover must-own records. We’ve been amazed by the lists so far. In addition to the picks, the best part of the feature has been the artists’ introductions and explanations. It’s a thrill to see artists share their passion and love for the music that inspired them. In fact, when the artist of this week’s Gimme 5! sent me his list, I literally got goosebumps from reading his words. I am talking about Rob Nesbitt. Rob played on the first BUM album Wanna Smash Sensation – an early nineties somewhat overlooked powerpop/pop punk classic. He then quit the band and spent the next 25 (!) years working on a Suitesixteen record. It came out last year, and it’s perfect. It is available in a custom triple gatefold, double vinyl package with a 50-page book and beautiful photography.

Rob’s list includes 5 records that were “monumentally important to him and perhaps overlooked.” Click below to read and listen. Rob wrote an extensive introduction to his list and explanations for each pick. He apologizes for it being long, but if you are like me, at the end of the post he leaves you wanting more. Thanks a lot for your generosity, Rob!

New album: Sweat Enzo || Painting Salmon in Salmon Colored Rooms

Sweat Enzo might be my favorite discovery of 2021. Apparently, the band has been releasing music since 2012, and from what I hear they like to switch up their sound with each release. For example, Talking Rock (2016) sounds like a Pavement take on classic rock, whereas Rok n Roll Porch (2017) has an early Replacements feel to it – listen to Go To School for example. Twee Bongos, in contrast, sounds like a mix of twee pop and slacker rock. And on most records they pull it off. It’s baffling how many gems a quick dive in their back catalogue on Requested Records uncovers.

Their most recent record, however, is something else. I am counting Painting Salmon in Salmon Colored Rooms as a 2021 record in spite of it being recorded mostly in 2016, revisited in 2018, finalized in 2020 and ultimately released on the final day of 2020. It’s a record I gladly paid for on the most recent Bandcamp Friday. In fact, I had to, because I had exceeded its streaming limit on the site. On it, Sweat Enzo play the type of powerpop that fans of Big Star, Teenage Fanclub, Fountains of Wayne and Someone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin will adore. The pop sensibilities on this record are front and center, and the songwriting is too good to overlook despite the lo-fi production. Honestly, I don’t mind that lo-fi production at all. And yet, I cannot help to wonder how broad the appeal of this record would be with a fuller, more produced sound. It’s THAT good.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Music On Hold || 30 minutes of…

When you decide to get a degree at university, like singer / songwriter Emile Cartron-Eldin music goes on hold. That fact resulted in at least a band name, and after several EPs on cassette there is now the debut full-length that got its name in an equally logical way: 10 songs in 30 minutes. The trio from Paris – besides the mentioned singer: Guillaume Dufour on bass and Ray Jane on keyboards – play a kind of timeless indie / synth pop that captivates your attention in a mesmerizing way.

Out now through Born Bad Records. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New song: Juan Wauters with Mac DeMarco || Real

Two Add To Wantlist favorites recording a song and video together in which the strengths of both artists form an even more fun combination – it is a no-brainer to share that with you. Juan Wauters and Mac DeMarco make Real a party to watch and listen to. A variety of styles, tempo changes, easy to sing along (‘nah nah nah’), summer entertainment. This could even become a Tik Tok hit (of course I’m actually too old to predict that; my daughter thinks the tune is too slow and is convinced that I won’t be right – we’ll see (why should we care about Tiktok anyway?)).

After Presentation (with Nick Hakim & Benamin) this is another new track from Juan Wauters’ upcoming album Real Life Situations, out April 30th. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Captured Tracks

New album: The Boys With The Perpetual Nervousness || Songs From Another Life

I appreciate it when a band’s name is diagnostic of its sound. Here is a prime example. The Boys With The Perpetual Nervousness are Andrew Taylor and Gonzalo Marcos. With one member living in Scotland and the other Spain, they took the Postal Service route in producing their latest record. Although I liked their previous one (Dead Calm), I admit to not having purchased it. With the new record however, I immediately have that urge to click on add to cart. The indie pop on Songs From Another Life sounds confident yet delicate, and the strummy and jangly guitars makes me long for spring. Some songs sound like straight up Teenage Fanclub worship, but in a good way. Fans of The Byrds and Big Star will probably dig this as well. And yes, I am totally copying these names from the press release, but they make too much sense not to. The colorful album art is pretty good too, and will brighten up (m)any home(s) as well. With this release, and the ones by The Laughing Chimes and Farewell Horizontal, this has been an excellent release week for fans of top-notch indiepop.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

GIMME 5! || Jacob Lewis (Western Threads) Shares Five Albums That Inspired ‘Cowboys in Montmartre’

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

Collecting records is not only about the sound, but also about the visual aspect. So browsing through the endless stream of new music on Bandcamp I’m more likely to give it a listen if the cover art is cool. Usually the expectations that an image creates are not fulfilled, but sometimes you are pleasantly surprised. That’s how I discovered Cowboys in Montmartre, the debut album by indie pop band Western Threads that will be released at the end of this month. Great music, great design.

I am very honored that Jacob Lewis, who together with Christopher McBee, Ainsley Richter, and Michael Sherer make up Western Threads, and is also responsible for the cover design, is willing to share with us some of the albums that inspired Cowboys in Montmartre. Click below to read and listen. Jacob added short explanations for each pick. We added YouTube videos and Discogs links so you can add these records to your wantlist. Thank you very much Jacob!

New song: Bad Western || Sun In Yr Eyes

The Canadian four-piece indie rock band Bad Western released this happy song, one that you immediately sing along, one that you hope to hear on long car rides, one that I keep for my summer vacation playlist. Sun In Yr Eyes is available to stream / buy now, with all proceeds from the song going to support Eva’s, a charity in Toronto that helps homeless and at-risk youth.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New single: Ma’aM || Cruisin All The Time / A Horse Is A Corpse

The tags on Ma’aM’s Bandcamp page include country, outlaw, cowpunk, and garage rock, leaving plenty of room to put their music in whatever corner you prefer. Wat I do know is this: Cruisin’ All the Time, the A-side to their latest single, has an earworm chorus that I don’t mind at all. Out now on a hand cut clear 7″ lathe record.

So I’ll get into my car and drive away // Cruisin up and down the highway // Thinkin’ about the things I shouldn’t say // And I’ll be quiet

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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