Indie Pop

New EP: Gran Nada || Gran Nada

If I am not mistaken, Gran Nada is the first Chilean band we covered on this site. The four-piece just released their debut EP. It has 7 pretty good to pretty great songs of breezy surfrock and beachpop. RIYL: Beach Fossils, The Drums. [update: Not sure why, but this EP seems to be taken down from Bandcamp]

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Layten Kramer || Dear Apathy

“Constant rearrangements // All this strange displacement // It’s so hard these days // To understand” – the lyrics and sound of Layten Kramer’s Strange Displacement are a fitting soundtrack to the strange times we live in. It’s one of the standout tracks from his new full-length album Dear Apathy, out now via Oscar St. Records. The Canadian singer / songwriter / multi-instrumentalist makes music that can be described as psychedelic western indie pop, dreamy and atmospheric. Let yourself drift away to these melodies. RIYL: Mac DeMarco, Jon McKiel, Cut Worms, Sam Cohen.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: The Jonnybirds || The Jonnybirds

Here’s the story of how The Jonnybirds became a thing. Once upon a time, three musicians from different places stumbled across each other during the 2020 pandemic. Alan was traveling around Asia and got stuck in Seoul when Covid-19 hit, Alex was doing a professorship of German studies there, and Jinu is a Seoul native who’s a veteran in the local music scene. They were clicking quite well, so they decided to do some recordings instead of waiting on the corona virus. Because aside from Jinu, none of them had their instruments there, they were forced to limit themselves to an acoustic sound, but that became a comfortable stylistic choice. Their self-titled debut EP is now digitally available everywhere. Listen to the Radiohead-esque track Citizen Sane below (or watch the live version at YouTube), but also check out the multilingual song Riverwalk and the Nirvana-inspired Twist.

Add to wantlist at your preferred music service.

New EP: Jet City Sports Club || September Sun

Yeah, I know, we write about Australian bands A LOT. But the music that is coming out of Australia recently is just too good not to share. Well, at least Jet City Sports Club are from Sydney and not Melbourne,  a particularly overrepresented city in our coverage. The bio of JCSC mentions ’90s grunge and britpop as influences, but I am not really picking that up from that the band’s sound. The four-piece makes the kind of indiepop I have a soft spot for: Crisp guitars, upbeat drumming and an amazing voice in singer Lilla Obradovic, who I believe would also fare well in an altcountry band. It’s full on pop music, but with sufficient pace and bite to please the alternative crowd. It’s not the sound you’d associate with a band named Jet City Sports Club. We shouldn’t take the bandname too seriously, the band explains: “We always had the idea of ‘X sports club’ as it’s a bit ironic as we aren’t very athletic, except maybe our bass player. Jet City just sounded cool so we ran with that. Seb, our bassist, plays soccer and loves the footy, as for the rest of us, we’re definitely not a hugely sporty group,”

JCSC show plenty of hit potential on the September Sun EP, and opener Bloodhounds is a prime example (listen below). And based on this performance of Redfern Station, the band’s live shows will live up to that promise. So yeah, another Australian band making the wantlist. It currently digital only, but there are plans for a physical release. The band also hopes to  put out a full length eventually. Despite the murderous competition in their home continent, let’s hope a label will pick them up ASAP.

Add to wantlist: iTunes

New album: Lisasinson || Perdona Mamá

Lisasinson are a band on the verge of breaking out to a large audience. Don’t take my word for it; my antenna for sensing these things is usually well off. But the hit potential on their mini-LP Perdona Mamá is massive. Lisasinson (Spain) are an easy band to fall for. Their songs are upbeat and catchy, with plenty of group vocals and bubblegum for those who like their punky pop sugary sweet. They have fast pop songs for punk kids (Corazón, Discotea) and midpaced punk songs for indie pop kids (Tú Y Yo). Their videos are fun. And, they make you sing along to words you don’t understand: Volverte Enamoraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrr! That song is about falling in love apparently. Like I said,  it’s easy to fall  for this band.  The nine-song ten-inch LP is available now through Elefant Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: Dazy || The Crowded Mind

Early 2020, Dazy released a three song digital single called Revolving Door. It was my first taste of the band, and the 90 second song Weatherman Got It Wrong hinted upon your-new-favorite-band material. Three months later, we are treated to an 8-song EP that shows even more potential: The Crowded Mind. Dazy play noisy and fuzzy altpop that will appeal to fans of Lemonheads and guitar-driven britpop. Underneath Dazy’s distorted sound are excellent pop songs, and tracks like See The Bottom, Right As Rain and Perpetual Motion would have received major air time in the nineties.

The crazy thing is, Dazy is not even a band. It’s a solo project by a music publicist (James Goodson). Goodson is also a member of grungepunk band Teen Death and poppunk band Bashful – make sure to check out their 2020 album Driving. Dazy’s releases are currently digital only. Let’s hope that Goodson ultimately will release his best tunes on a LP.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Frankie And His Fingers || Universal Hurt

I didn’t plan writing about Universal Hurt, the comeback record of Frankie And His Fingers. The band plays a mix of fuzzy powerpop and indie rock with a radio friendly pop sound. Remember The Format’s Dog Problems? Universal Hurt brings back memories to that album. It’s diverse, it’s got well crafted songs, it’s got slowed down parts, it’s got anthemic choruses, and above  all, plenty of melody to draw you in. Given all these qualities, I mistakenly assumed this band to have plenty of monthly listeners on streaming platforms. To compare, The Format have well over 100k and the follow up to that band (Fun.) surpass 7 million (!) monthly listeners on Spotify. Frankie & His Fingers? Not so much. That’s a pity,  because I am sure there is a large audience for this record. Songs like Celebrate!, Gene Kelly & The Truck My Dad Built, and To Die Would Be A Great Adventure showcase the songwriting skills of the band. It’s impressive to see a band that has been on a ten-year hiatus, with members drifting towards college and other bands like Real Estate and Laura Stevenson, return in such good form. Universal Hurt is an inspired record, and arguably the band’s best work yet. Out now on SubFamily Records.

“I pressed pause on my fashion sense when I was 26 || Maybe if I walk around looking like it’s 2012 I can fool the kids || Maybe this is much sadder than accepting I’m fatter and just leaning into quiet nights and buying things.”

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Smile || The Name Of This Band Is Smile

There is no shortage of bands called Smile. This one is a four-piece from Turin (Italy), who started playing together in 2019 and just dropped their debut record. Smile play uptempo underground pop with a strong ’90s vibe, not unlike Bob Mould but with a clean jangly guitar as the central driver of the songs. The Name Of This Band Is Smile is by no means a perfect record – some songs lack focus and direction and hooks to keep your attention. But, the record offers plenty of moments where you hear the potential of the band. Listen to How The Race Is Done and From Here On for example. The band gives some additional info about the record on their Facebook page:  “This record is a no-filter picture of our first year as a band. A year made of songs, electricity, gigs, and the final delusion of the pandemic. It’s a record about the alienation of everyday life stuck between bad and underpaid jobs, the uncertainty of feelings, and the depression of the lack of alternatives given by capitalist realism.”

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Early Riser || Vocations

Early Riser are a quirky band from Brooklyn. And by quirky, I am referring to their cello-driven punk sound. That cello gives the songs on their new record (Vocations) a folky vibe, but in a nuanced and subtle way: Vocations essentially is classic pop punk and in no way sounds like Flogging Molly. On the record, founding members Kiri Oliver and Heidi Vanderlee are joined by Nicole Nussbaum & Mikey Erg – who icymi released an excellent solo record a couple of weeks ago. A strength of Early Riser is that all four member sing, with plenty of harmonies and group vocals, giving the song a communal and upbeat feel. My early favorites on the record are Metronome Heart and the title track. For the latter, the band has created one of the most inspired stuck-at-home video’s I’ve seen yet, see below. Vocations is out now on A-F Records in vinyl colors that mirror the album cover.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || A-F Records

Gimme 5! || Simon Jackson Shares “Five” Songs That Reflect The Eclectic Sound Of Hogchoker

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.

I am not really open to electronic dance music and some extreme niches, but otherwise I try to listen to many different music styles. However, when I came across Hogchoker, my head almost exploded: the band from Shanghai plays original, theatrical, punky world music with a message of social justice and inclusivity, spiced by anarchic humor and big brass jazz, funk, salsa, klezmer and ska riffs, with guest musicians like Argentinian opera singer Ernesto ‘Ruso’ Bauer en reggae legends Max Romeo and Big Youth. That intrigued me to the extent that I was very curious about their sources of inspiration. Simon Jackson, singer, songwriter and sax player of Hogchoker, is kind enough to explain this to us in detail. A lot to discover – very interesting, very cool!

Simon Jackson (Hogchoker):
‘Having spent over a year recording what I hope is the most eclectic and entertaining set of songs you’ll hear this year, playing with artists from Argentina, Brazil, China, France, Ireland, Jamaica, the UK and US, I’ve tried to put together a list of the songs that reflect the mix of genres, nationalities and influences on the album. I’m Simon, singer, songwriter and saxophonist for Hogchoker. The album is Roll Up for the Crazy Sound of Hogchoker, our 8th so far (with nearly as many line ups).

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