Indie Pop

New EP: Shiny Times || Lets Get Shiny!

Shiny Times is a solo side gig of Kim Hart-Weldin (Tape Waves). Hart-Weldin’s spine tingling voice is on full display on this new EP. Backed by jangly guitars and classic indie pop beats, Let’s Get Shiny! offers a mix of dreamy indie pop and twee that I find hard to resist. Out now on CD at Thessaloniki (Greece) label Melotron Recordings.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: The Smashing Times || Summer Inside

Summer Inside is a collection of stuck-at-home basement recordings from The Smashing Times. The band members used to live in Seattle, but currently reside in Baltimore – affordable living for musicians and an influx of tech workers do not mix. The band draws their influence from The Pastels, Television Personalities and The Times, and the band’s name is a tip of the hat to the latter two bands (remember this Television Personalities song?). The band sounds completely different than some of the previous bands the members played in, like hardcorepunk acts Shook Ones, Ripped To Shreds, and postpunk art collective The New Love Syndicate. Summer Inside is a perfect album for jangle pop and C86 fanatics. It is absolutely unpolished, and mixes instantly likeable underground pop hit singles (sample three of these below), with some weirder more experimental tracks. To be honest, when we started our blog, I expected to write more often about this type of music, but for some reason, few records have clicked with me in what undeniably already is a niche genre. Summer Inside is a welcome exception, and hopefully a starting point for a solid indie pop summer, one that we can preferably spend outside. Summer Inside is out now on cassette on Painter Man Records, with more Smashing Times (“The lockdown has driven us mad”) in the works:  look for a new single this summer.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Painter Man Records

New album: John Andrews and The Yawns || Cookbook

American singer/songwriter John Andrews and his imaginary band The Yawns are back with Cookbook, their third full-length album, out now digitally and on vinyl LP through Woodsist. It contains ten new calm, atmospheric songs with beautifully sung engaging lyrics, comparable to what we are used to from this label. Check out River of Doubt, for example: “If I’m swimming in that river of doubt, won’t you pull me out?” Or listen to the instrumental track Song for the Gonz, a score to 90’s street skateboarder Mark Gonzalez with a timeless, cartoon-like melody, which proves that lyrics aren’t always necessary to tell a story. Well done by that imaginary band.


Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs || Woodsist

New album: Astro Chicken || Different Town

New Yorkers Barney Miller and his good friend John Laprade are both singer / songwriter / multi-instrumentalist and as Astro Chicken they released their new album Different Town this week, digitally and on vinyl LP via DETOX Recordings. They deserve a podium just for their optimistic song Good Times Are Coming. Barney explains: “As Beatle George said, ‘All Things Must Pass’. It’s a sentiment that helped get me though the past year. It’s gotten me through personal issues. Family, work. Almost anything. The fact is that whatever bad is happening in your life or in the world, it will not last.” You can see this record as a settlement with the dark year we all just lived through. Fortunately: “Nothing lasts forever, but love comes close.” And: “I still got you, and I’m still here too.” So many beautiful lyrics and strong songs on this poppy, accessible rock album. As long as this kind of good music is being made, there is hope.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: The Martial Arts || Getting Stranger By The Moment

Retropop easily can become too campy for my taste, but if it’s executed well, it can be quite delightful. I count Glasgow band The Martial Arts’ new EP (Getting Stranger By The Moment) in the latter category. The main draw of the EP is its lead single Bethany, which frontman Paul Kelly (of BMX Bandits, The Primary 5 and many more) colors with just the right sepia tones. If you are looking for an escape from your 2021 blues, give this one a spin.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Last Night In Glasgow

Gimme 5! Jake Sprecher (Terry Malts, Smokescreens & Jonathan Richman) Shares His Top 5 Quarantine Albums That Sound Absolutely Nothing Like His New Project The Wind-Ups

Photo by Beth LaBerge

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.

This week’s Gimme 5 features a multitalented artist who plays (or has played)  with Terry Malts, Smokescreens, Beehive and Jonathan Richman of the Modern Lovers. I am talking about Jake Sprecher, who made good use of his Covid induced boredom by purchasing a TASCAM 388 and recording a new solo bedroom-project as The Wind-Ups. The result is Try Not To Think, a 19 minute powerpop masterpiece  disguised as lo-fi garagepunk record. Of his previous bands, Try Not To Think is sonically nearest to the early Terry Malts stuff: just as infectious but louder and slightly slower paced. The songs have that deceptive songwriting quality that can easily be misinterpreted as simplism. In truth, it takes skill to write songs that are this straightforward and yet so memorable. To give you an idea, listen to the two prematurely released tracks off the record: Lockdown and Too Many Bibles. I’ll write a longer review near its June 18 release date – spoiler: there are a lot of killer tracks on this one. [post continues below]

New album: Gebre || Riu Amunt

Gebre is a foursome from Spain including Aleix Ferrús, Adrià González, Dani Cervera and Llorenç Coca. For these four hombres, music has a therapeutic power helping them to deal with the problems and difficulties of modern life. Gebre’s debut full-length (Riu Amunt) sounds far from difficult or troubled though. Gebre plays the kind of guitarpop Teenage Fanclub would play if they lived in a country with better weather. Call it sunshine pop if you will.  Some well timed jangle guitars and high pitched backing woohoos add to that summer feeling (e.g., listen to Me Van Salvar). Plenty of hits on this one! Grab the CD at Barcelona label The Indian Runners.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || The Indian Runners

New album: Danny Carney Chainsaw Symphony || Blizzard of ’82

I was unaware of Blizzard of ’82 until a recent Instagram endorsement by Stateline Records pointed in its direction. It’s the solo debut of Danny Carney, who used to play in Roll The Tanks, but now operates under the moniker Danny Carney Chainsaw Symphony. Hard not to be intrigued by that name, and the same applies to his music. Press play on opening track Maraschino University and you’ll discover that this is not your average record. That song stays under 3 minutes, but it is layered and catchy despite its lack of a clear chorus. It even has a intense sax solo. And that’s just the first song. The second song (VCR) does have a clear chorus that is massive  and absolutely pop oriented, but the song also have the feel of a punkrock tune. Track 3 Glomar Blues somehow moves into ’80s hardrock territory, not unlike the direction A.F.I. took  mid-career. I could go on, but the surprises keep coming and I am not sure if I have the words to explain the sound of Danny Carney Chainsaw Symphony – nor do I want to spoil the record. It’s definitely indie rock, but it very much is its own thing. It’s diverse and eclectic but not incoherent. It’s loaded with hooks. It’s an exiting record to dive into and explore in full. Basically, I have no idea what Danny Carney is up to, but it works and I want more.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Danny Carney Chainsaw Symphony

New album: The Spaghetti Stains || Essential Ingredients

Last year, The Spaghetti Stains won a Level Up Grant from Triple J Unearthed. That money went into recording their self-released debut Essential Ingredients. The band members (Pantjiti, Emmah and Rose) grew up in GunaiKurnai Country (Gippsland), which (I Googled) is a gorgeous little region on the south-eastern coast of Australia. It’s easy to see a direct relation between that location and the sound of the band. Let’s call it surfy altrock, with straight up bangers alternating slower moody tracks. On their best tracks (No Wuckin’ Fay, Toast To The Coast, Caveman Diet), The Spaghetti Stains approach the level of acts like The Beths, Alex Lahey and Best Coast, and I have a sense The Spaghetti Stains are only going to get better. They have good taste as well, as illustrated in this entertaining 7 hour playlist of their musical influences on Spotify .

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

Gimme 5! Spud Cannon Shares 5 Albums That Influenced Good Kids Make Bad Apples

Spud Cannon photo by Juan C Quimper

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.

This week’s Gimme 5! is a full band effort by Spud Cannon from Poughkeepsie (NY), who will release their third album on June 25th on Good Eye Records. That record is called Good Kids Make Bad Apples and has quite the backstory. It was recorded in 2019, with the band close to calling it quits due to internal struggles.  At a late minute surprise show, the band serendipitously discovered the perfect location to record their third album: The Vassar College (NY) campus squash courts. And so they did, sneakily entering the courts after midnight, setting up their gear and recording their own wall of sound until 6 AM, before anyone could find out about their endeavours – check out the band’s Instagram for background footage of these late night shenanigans.

Fast forward two years, and we finally are able to hear the results. My early thoughts: 1) despite internal band struggles, this very much sounds like a team effort and like the band actually had a lot of fun recording these songs, 2) The squash court as a recording studio…actually  works? Good Kids Make Bad Apples sounds huge, and has a roomy feel to it. The band wanted to approach the sound and energy of their live shows. I haven’t seen the band live, but that raw energy and authenticity is definitely there. The record does not feel overproduced in any way, and yet it is very much a pop record. The band credits Chris Connors at Concrete Sound for his great work mixing and polishing the songs which were all recorded in one take as a full band. That is, the band allowed no editing, so they played a song until they were happy with the take and moved on to the next. Some songs took time. To the band’s estimate they had to play album standout Juno 70 (!) times before being satisfied with the result. And yet, despite the sleepless nights on the squash courts, none of these songs sound tiresome: Good Kids Make Bad Apples is high on energetic and celebratory indiepop’n’roll with plenty of bite. Get a taste of the record with early singles Supersonic and Juno. Pre-orders for the record are up now (on red apple red naturally) at Good Eye Records or on Bandcamp[continues below]

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