A solo record by Neil Brogan of Sea Pinks, Girls Names and Cruising fame? That doesn’t just sound good on paper. Things Keep Getting In The Way offers 30 minutes of smooth jangle guitars, laid back vocals, and simply great melodies. Admittedly, this isn’t the first solo release by Brogan – there is a lot to discover on his Bandcamp page, but to my knowledge it’s the first solo release with a physical (CD) release. That makes sense, because I think it contains the best of his recent recordings. Brogan has a knack for writing tunes that make you feel good. The combination of his voice and the clean jangle guitar riffs has a soothing effect.
Things Keep Getting In The Way is life summarized in six words, but Brogan makes it sound like the world is alright after all (or will be). There even is a song on here called I’m In A Good Mood. Same, Neil. Same!
New York-based trio Tchotchke – Anastasia Sanchez (drums, vocals), Eva Chambers (bass, vocals) and Emily Tooraen (guitar, vocals) – have released their self-titled debut album, produced by The Lemon Twigs. At first hearing these are simply nine indie pop songs with a 60s girl group sound, but surprising baroque, psych, folk and rock influences – guest musicians added cellos, horns and violins – make the album more unique, fascinating and eccentric than you initially expect. Wonderful arrangements, enchanting vocals. Actually, there are no weak moments here, but apart from the singles Ronnie, Dizzy and Don’t Hang Up On Me, in particular Oh Sweetheart, Come (featuring Jonathan Rado) is an addictive summer hit.
As if I needed any more reason to love Durham (UK) indiepoppunks Martha, they recently started covering some of my favorite bands. On their last single, they included a fun cover of an Allo Darlin’s classic (covered in our Monthly Dusted feature). This time, they do Tenement’s Dreaming Out Loud, and it’s another good one that’s stays true to the original.
But what really stands out on their latest 7″ is the Martha original and instant pop punk hit Beat Perpetual. It may very well be the catchiest song I’ve heard lately. Its chorus is massive and glorious and perhaps the poppiest they’ve recorded in their already super melodic discography. Have I told you yet how much I love this band?
Beat Perpetual is out through Dirtnap Records, and available through Green Noise (USA) and Specialist Subject (UK/EU). It’s a must own.
Zoe, Noah, Nancy and Eli make up Parlor Hour, a slacker twee outfit from Portland, Oregon. This 4-minute single is my introduction to the band, and I sure hope we’ll meet again. The two songs are scrappy and infectious, just the way we like it at ATW.
“I sat down to write a cute song // But i have reality // on my shoulder // looking over.”
The new single has three songs: Born To Run (not a cover), Vegas, and Wyoming – The latter sounded so familiar, I was searching my brain for the original artist only to discover it’s a rerecorded version of a Star 99 original from last year’s EP. The new version strips away all instrumentation of the original except for the guitar and vocals. In doing so, it places a spotlight on the songwriting skills of Star 99.
The two additional tracks on the single (Born To Run and Vegas) further solidify my appreciation for the melodic indiepunk/altpop of Star 99. I have yet to hear a weak song from this band, and am curious to see where they go next.
Based on their amount of montly listeners on Spotify – just shy of 60k, it seems fuzzy and playful indiepoppers El Buen Hijo are making some serious waves in their country of origin (Spain). And deservedly so. I wouldn’t be surprised to see those waves reaching other coastal lines as well, because the four songs on the Pasatiempo EP are almost too easy to like.
Following up their debut LP ¡PAN PAN PAN! (2021), El Buen Hijo sound decidedly pop on their new EP but at a pace that suggests they are either punks in disguise or score high on a scale of hyperactivity. The summer time vibes are high on this one. 7″ out now through Sonido Muchacho.
For me, music is all about feeling. The extent to which music is memorable and likeable depends on what emotions it evokes and the strength of these particular emotions. There is no way I’m going to describe better or more concisely how I feel about Flowertown’s new mini-album Half Yesterday than this piece from the press release: “it’s as if you’re floating around the city, people-watching through a soft focus lens.” It’s a perfect description of this dreamy record that seems literally and figuratively uninterested in screaming its importance to the world. Flowertown would rather sneak up to you with their understated dreamy lo-fi underground pop, slowly crawling their way under your skin. It’s kind of weird, and kind of beautiful.
Flowertown is Karina Gill (Cindy) and Mike Ramos (Tony Jay). Half Yesterday is out now through Mt. St. Mtn (LP) and Paisley Shirt Records (CS).
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.
Hound Dog || Cover: The Record Company || Original: Big Mama Thornton
The iconic rock ‘n’ roll track Hound Dog was written by Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller, first released by blues singer Big Mama Thornton (1953), and made famous by Elvis Presley (1956). The ELVIS soundtrack features an honorable cover by Shonka Dukureh, but as a fan of American roots rock band The Record Company, it’s their version that you see here (not related to the movie). It’s not a Thornton or Presley imitation: as always The Record Company gives it its own twist. In case you don’t know: they previously worked on Beastie Boys’ So What’Cha Want, still one of my favorite covers ever.
Lovers of jangly guitars and dreamy power pop, take note. Vancouver four piece The Sylvia Platters are in exceptional good form on their new EP Youth Without Virtue.
Fully comfortable with a permanent stay in the underground music scene (as the band’s singer guitarist Nick Ubels explains here), The Sylvia Platters’ prime concern seem to be to write the best songs they can under their own rules. That approach fits the band perfectly. Churning out pop gem after gem, the Youth Without Virtue EP is pure ear candy – my two current favorite songs embedded below. So thank you for being you, The Sylvia Platters!
Could this be the best single of 2022? For those into indie pop and twee, this may be very well be the case. Write It In The Sky offers an instant rush while forfeiting the inevitable sugar dip. Rather, the positive vibes the song will linger throughout your day. The song is fuzzy, melodic, equal parts Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, Comet Gain and The Pastels; in short, a massive hit. On flipside I’ll Never Understand, The Umbrellas show a more introspected and less upbeat side that does not disappoint at all.
I loved The Umbrellas’ 2021 debut LP, but with this single, they hint that the best is yet to come. Write It In The Sky is out now through Slumberland, Meritorio, Tear Jerk and Fastcut Records. Buy without caution.