Indie Pop

New album: The Spires || Era Was

The Spires are from California. They play timeless guitar pop that is pleasant to the ears, soul and mind. Era was, I believe, is the band’s fifth full-length, which “started off as a full band live record then ended up a bedroom headphone jammer.” Recommended if you like your indie rock understated, subtle, and well executed.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Hoorsees || Hoorsees

I liked the previously released video for Hoorsees’ song Get Tired, so I was really looking forward to their first self-titled album. It’s out now on Kanine Records (USA), Howlin ‘Banana Records (FR) and In Silico Records (FR) and to be honest, I didn’t really feel it when I listened to it through my laptop speakers the first two times yesterday. That changed with the third listen, through my headphones – the jangly indie pop of the French four-piece takes some time to grow, but slowly but surely it gets under your skin. They say ‘Hey, I’m useless’ in their bio, but that’s false modesty – this music does add value.

Add to wantlist @ Bandcamp:  Howlin Banana Records || In Silico || Kanine Records

New album: Justin Freely || What A Time To Be Alive

Indeed, the flow of good music from Melbourne, Australia continues, but this one sounds a bit different from the Melbourne bands we have recently written about. What a Time to be Alive is the debut album by Justin Freely, who wrote all the songs and did the vocals and guitars. The eight lyric focused topical and love songs form a multi genre collection; I’ve placed it in the indie pop category, but there are also influences from folk, blues, and even reggae (Shake It All Off). Thanks in part to the production and sound effects of Brooke Penrose (Saint Jude), this is an entertaining and engaging listening experience.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: FRITZ || Pastel

There has been no shortage of fuzzy dream pop projects in the streaming age. This makes it hard for artists to truly stand out from the pack. An additional challenge with this genre is that although a lot of artists sound instantly likeable, that appeal often is short-lived or limited to individual songs rather than full-length albums. Two positive exceptions this past decade, at least to me, were Alvvays and Say Sue Me. I am going to add FRITZ to that list, who kind of sound like a combination of the two but with an emphasis on their faster work. FRITZ is Tilly Murphy from Newcastle (Australia), backed up by Cody Brougham (guitar) and Darren James (drums). Murphy cites Alvvays, Pains Of Being True At Heart and Best Coast as her main influences, and you can tell. Pastel is the sophomore album by FRITZ. It’s a major step up from their debut, and I’m all in.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: TOLEDO || Jockeys Of Love

The American dream pop duo TOLEDO has been making beautiful music for a few years now (check out the compilation Everything So Far or my previously favorite song FOMO), but they now seem to surpass themselves with their new EP Jockeys Of Love. The six new songs by Daniel Alvarez and Jordan Dunn-Pilz are atmospheric and enchanting, you could call them bedroom folk. Out now via Telefono.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New single: Late Runner || I Wear Shades

About 20 years ago, the Danish synthpop band Superheroes released three albums and five EPs, which have survived quite well (listen to Someone Else for example). Their guitarist, Asger Tarpgaard, was still a teenager at the time. Now he has grown into his new project Late Runner, with music he finally felt ready to write. Here’s their promising first single and official video. I Wear Shades is out now through Crunchy Frog Recordings.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Borito || What we Have Now

Tel Aviv musicians Yael Copeland and Shahar Levi met at a music festival where Yael was performing and Shahar was the sound engineer. Together with Sivan Dahan and Yoni Deutsch they form Borito, to celebrate the sweetness in life that can be easily forgotten. Their independently produced debut album What we Have Now contains fun, danceable, dreamy and colorful arrangements influenced by contemporary indie / jangle pop bands (RIYL: Horsebeach, Terry vs. Tori, Hoops, Molly Burch). Listen below to standout track Song for Dawn, the first tune the 4-piece made together. The rest is also worth a listen.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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!

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