Indie Pop

New album: The Haunted Youth || Dawn Of The Freak

A year and a half ago we were already looking forward to the full-length debut of The Haunted Youth, finally the Belgian indie band centered around Joachim Liebens fulfills that wish. On Dawn Of The Freak you’ll hear ten songs that are as good as hoped for, dark and mesmerizing hits with their roots in the eighties: jangling guitars, melancholic synths and dreamy vocals. Half of the tracks were previously released as singles – I always find it a shame when a band’s first successful steps are left out on their first LP, so I’m very glad they were included here – and the fresh tunes fit in seamlessly. The record kicks off with the cinematic instrumental title track, an almost classical introduction to the highlights that follow – it’s a perfectly constructed album, well thought out and sounding like the masterpiece it is. You can call it psychedelic shoegaze, dream pop or autumn music, but above all it is an addictive trip – a glorious debut. Below you can listen to the first single from early 2021, Teen Rebel, and two new ones, of which closing track Fist In My Pocket is an atypical surprise.

Dawn Of The Freak, composed, written and produced by Joachim Liebens, is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Mayway Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs || The Haunted Youth

New album: Bella Larson & The Scene Kids || Dream Kids

Bella Larson & The Scene Kids (Duluth, Minnesota) are not the first band to play acoustic bubblegum pop punk – The Lemons come to mind, but they play their songs with infectious enthusiasm, singing their sleazy lyrics with full conviction. If the thought of a bunch of people bringing their acoustic guitars to your campfire usually fills you with dread, the wig wearing Bella Larson & The Scene Kids may very well positively surprise you. They may even put a smile on your face and get you to sing along to their tunes. If you are looking for something quirky and different, give Bella Larson & The Scene Kids’ new record a chance.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Various Artists || Tracknaphobia Vol. 2 (Tarantula Tapes)

We don’t often write about compilations, but they (still!) are a great resource to discover new music. Compilations are of course also a great way to put the spotlight and celebrate a certain label and scene. Both of these strengths apply to the new Tarantula Tapes comp Tracknaphobia Vol. 2. In the liner notes, Tarantula Tapes give a third reason why comps can be great: it’s a way to build a community and a scene. Tracknaphobia Vol. 2. serves as the label’s thank you to everyone involved in keeping the underground music community alive – from musicians, labels and techicians to designers, podcasts and writers. The sense of gratitude applies not just to the past, but has its eye on the here and now, and the future: The 16 band, 16 song comp sounds curated by someone who is on top of the diversity and quality of the current punk rock and indie scene. If this was a weekly radio show, I’d sure be tuning in again and again.

Tracknaphobia Vol. 2 is out now, on Tape of course.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Macaroni Birthday || Sing Rock ‘N’ Roll Songs for Children

Patrick McCormack and Eric Warner (Toronto, Ontario) usually play their music pretty fast and loud in bands like Beliefs, Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs, Arietta, Neon WIndbreaker, Milk Lines, First Base, Viking Club, Dollarama, and Bike Club. What you may not know yet is that the duo also have a project that comes without a parental advisory sticker: As Macaroni Party, the duo play stripped down family proof rock’n’roll songs.

Macaroni Birthday started more or less unintentionally, when Warner started writing songs for his three kids to make them smile and eat their fruits and greens. Apparently the approach worked well enough to scale up the project from Warner’s kitchen table to the rest of the globe. Macaroni Birthday released a well received self-titled debut last year that left the kids wanting more. Hence a follow up was recorded with 14 additional nuggets for kids with short attention spans and parents who plainly refuse to accept the kind of music that enters your home once you start to have kids. Sing Rock ‘N’ Roll Songs for Children is a fun record for kids and parents alike. Macaroni Birthday take and teach the lessons of punk and DIY culture and make them relatable to youngsters, like the importance of thinking for yourself, be anything you’d like to be, taking care of your friends, having fun, and eating pizza.

CD out now through We Are Busy Bodies.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

Dusted || The 10 Best Cover Songs Of October 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.

Honk If You’re Lonely || Cover: Say Sue Me || Original: Silver Jews
South Korean indie rock band Say Sue Me celebrate their 10th anniversary with an EP simply called 10 (out digitally and on cassette through Damnably). For this they recorded creditable new versions of their own songs Bad Habit and Old Town, as well as covers of songs by Yo La Tengo, Pavement, Daniel Johnston, Silver Jews, Grandaddy and Guided By Voices. No weak moments here, but as we can’t honor David Berman enough, we chose this one.

New EP: The Wends || It’s Here Where You Fall

Remember Smile from Turin (Italy)? The four-piece have shed their feathers as Smile and are now called The Wends. Their debut EP is a win win win for all parties involved. They are much easier to find on the good old internet search engine and they are less likely to be confused among the plethora of bands called Smile. But most importantly, they have kept the good parts of their sound, ran an update and sound like a new and improved version of Smile. It is still tempting to describe The Wends as Bob Mould fronting a jangle power pop band, but relative to their Smile era they take a more adventurous approach and do so with more urgency and nervous energy. Not sure whether the dudes in The Wends work in advertising, but they sure do some solid rebranding.

If you like jangle pop, classic indie rock, underground pop, powerpop and sunshine pop, there is a good chance The Wends have just the right song for you to fall in love with. It’s Here Where You Fall is out now on CD through Subjangle and We Were Never Being Boring.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp ||

New album: The Smashing Times || Bloom

This is the third time we write about The Smashing Times. For good reason, the band just dropped their fourth release and all have been great – the only one we did not cover was released before we started Add To Wantlist. The latest is out today and called Bloom. It is their debut on Meritorio Records and their first on 12″ vinyl. ICYMI, The Smashing Times took their name from a Television Personalities song and the band The Times. That tells you a bit of what to expect, but Bloom shows that The Smashing Times can find inspiration anywhere and anytime.

Bloom is an interesting record, and I mean that in the best possible way. It has songs that are instantly enjoyable, like Diana, Waiting For The Sun, Come Out In The Sun And Play, The Reed Cutter, and Lost, When I Remember. Those reflect the underground pop side of Smashing Times (HITS!). But there are also a lot of quirky and experimental tracks on Bloom. Songs that may not click with you instantly, but will grow on you with each play. More importantly, the sequencing of Bloom make the more challenging songs contrast nicely with the more poppy tracks, bringing the best out of eachother.

Poppy, of course is a relative term in case of The Smashing Times, a band that is delightfully and deliberatively unpolished. On Bloom, they are also a band exploring different sounds. It’s not just ’80s underground pop, but they take influences from ’60s pop to freakbeat and psych as well. There also hints of influences from nonwestern music and different cultures.

With Bloom, The Smashing Times sure push the boundaries of what I’d normally listen to. I wouldn’t expect anything different from the band and wouldn’t have it any other way. The Smashing Times are a mind opening band that stimulates you to explore new music and expand your record collection in new directions.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Meritorio

New album: Dazy || OUTOFBODY

Does James Goodson ever sleep? The music publicist/podcast host/musician seems to live in a parallel universe where time constraints do not exist. His output as Dazy is particularly impressive. It’s one thing to write and record so many songs in what essentially is an one-man operation (“Big room hooks with bedroom production” is Goodson’s ethos), it’s a whole other beast when you regard the consistent high quality of the output. OUTOFBODY, Dazy’s latest, is no exception.

One thing that makes the music of Dazy so irressistible is its familiarity. OUTOFBODY sounds like Goodson made us all a mixtape of everything he liked about ’90s music. There is britrock/britpop, there is ’90s alt pop and college rock, there is jangle. Mix in the early ’90s takeover by Nirvana and Green Day, and you get a record that is concise yet full of hooks, full of energy and full of heart. S.W. Lauden sums up OUTOFBODY best in his interview with Goodson at The Big Takeover: “Imagine Sugar era Bob Mould teaming up with Beck circa Mellow Gold to record a late-‘90s Britpop album. Or The Jesus & Mary Chain time-traveling from the mid-‘80s to a bedroom recording session in 2022 to make a pop punk album of British Invasion covers.”

The LP version of OUTOFBODY is out now on Lame-O Records, Tape on Convulse Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Lame-O Records

Festival report || Left of the Dial 2022

Left of the Dial is an annual international showcase festival that takes place in mid-October in the city center of Rotterdam. The tastemaker event, named after that song by The Replacements, offers three days of new alternative music: more than 100 bands (many of them perform twice or even thrice) on 12 different stages (including a sailing boat, a stationary lightship, a beautiful church, and an improvised gym where you have to cycle to put the performers in the spotlight) – it must have been a complex logistical challenge. Because we love Rotterdam, but even more because the program fits very well with the releases we’ve written about before, the Add To Wantlist crew was happy to be there. We enjoyed a lot of great bands in really cool locations (in most cases with surprisingly good sound quality), along with other music fans (and members of performing bands in the audience) who weren’t there just to catch up, but to enjoy all those amazing shows. If one thing became clear: rock ‘n’ roll isn’t dead, far from it.

New album: Ribbon Stage || Hit With The Most

Punks playing pop music is such a great concept isn’t it? Don’t overthink the music, keeping it DIY and full of ramshackle charm. Write tunes that are short and move at a decent pace. Infuse them with an overdose of pop sensibility. Repeat.

On their debut LP Hit With The Most, Ribbon Stage (New York) show how irresistible the approach is. Ribbon Stage are from NYC and include Mari Softie (Ratas del Vaticano, Tercer Mundo, Exotica, and Pobreza Mental), Jolie M-A (Juicy II, Boys Online) and vocalist Anni Hilator. The trio recorded the 11 songs (20 minutes played at 45RPM) last December with Hayes Waring. Like the best underground pop records, Hit With The Most is noisy and sugary in all the right places. It is out now through K Records and Perennial.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

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