Indie Rock

New album: Teen Line || Collecting To Collect

An Australian band that names itself after one of the greatest should-have-been-chartopping power pop singles of all time? Well, if you want to know how high my expectations were for Teen Line’s debut LP, imagine standing on your toes and raising your hand as high as possible. I am pleased to report that this Geelong band featuring members of The Floaties, Vintage Crop, Luke & The Typicals and The Sues do the name justice.

Teen Line’s debut album Collecting To Collect showcases a raw and dynamic blend of power pop’n’roll characterized by lively guitar slinging, energetic drumming, and infectious honesty. The recordings exude a sense of spontaneity, almost like they’re first takes with no need to polish any imperfections. Teen Line doesn’t adhere strictly to a classic power pop blueprint; instead, they knead, pull, and twist the genre in their preferred direction. The result is something hearty and nourishing—not overly sugary or radio-friendly, but refreshingly authentic. Get ready to hit repeat!

Collecting To Collect is out now at Weather Vane Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: Heavy Denim || Cereal Dreams

Heavy Denim is an indie rock band from Durham, North Carolina, featuring Greg Arent (vocals), Blake Courlag (guitar), Daniel Weiss (guitar), Matt Clayton (bass) and Steve Weunch (drums). Cereal Dreams is their second EP, featuring four original songs that are thoughtful and memorable. The rhythm section is rightly confident, the guitar riffs are passionately compelling, the vocals are magnetically charismatic, but it‘s the powerful storytelling that makes the tunes hit-sensitive, especially in the two irresistible songs below.

Cereal Dreams is out now digitally (self-released).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: James Sullivan || Vital Signs

Just because James Sullivan pulled the plug on his band More Kicks, doesn’t mean he’s stopped being an artist. His sophomore solo LP Vital Signs, written and recorded in his home studio in 2022, is out today (on CD & LP) via Stardumb Records. It broadens both the artist’s and label’s horizons, and I am all in!

Freed from the confines and expectations of his former band, Sullivan now has a blank canvas to draw on. Like its album art suggests, Vital Signs is a vibrant and colorful record, blending various styles and influences. Despite the minimalistic percussion and instrumentation, the LP sounds surprisingly rich.

Even more so than on his solo debut Light Years, Sullivan distances himself from the catchy garage power pop he played with Suspect Parts and More Kicks – although songs like Best Friend and Day Late Dollar Short are easily reimagined as songs from said bands. The remainder of the record is full of surprising touches and decisions.

The record opens with It’s Good to be wrong, which carries an almost hymn-like feel yet maintains suspense. My Right Boot, anchored by a groovy bass riff and steady electronic drumbeat, will make you want to get up and move. In contrast, All I Wanna Do (Is Do Nothing With You) with its beautiful finger-picked acoustic guitar, draws you back in your seat. The track is followed by La Rochelle, an emotional heavy song featuring Sullivan’s voice accompanied by a captivating string arrangement. The two songs allow for a natural rest point on the record, quickly followed by the designated hit Day Late Dollar Short – watch the fun video below. Guilty as Charged is another highlight for me. If you have a soft spot for singers weaving stories over hypnotizing music, this one will be right up your alley.

Vital Signs showcases a liberated and inspired James Sullivan finding his groove. Alex Chilton, Paul Westerberg, Robyn Hitchcock, and Jonathan Richman would (or will) be bobbing their heads in approval.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Stardumb Records || Discogs

New EP: Softjaw || Softjaw

A Big Star pin on the jacket of Tanner Duffy (Justus Proffit, Hilary Chilton) made Dustin Lovelis (The Fling) reach out. The shared love of power pop marked the birth of a new Long Beach super group that also includes Vinny Earley (Vaguess, Diode) and Daniel Michicoff (Tijuana Panthers). The name of the band? Softjaw!

The band debuts with a 5-song self-titled EP of nod-your-head and tap-your-feet sunny and nostalgic power pop that channels classic (Beatles, Byrds, Big Star, and Nerves) and more modern (Teenage Fanclub) influences. It’s the kind of EP that can only be the product of shared passion, equity of talent and record collection overlap. I definitely want more of where this came from!

EP out now through Dream Machine Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Chloe Hawes || Remains​/​Reminders

With four EPs in the pocket, Chloe Hawes finally promotes to the full length format with the nine-song Remains​/​Reminders. It’s an excellent singer-songwriter indie punk folk record that distantly resembles Rocky Votolato but cranks up the volume and intensity.

You don’t need to read between the lines to feel the emotional weight of the themes explored in this record. Hawes’ voice alone conveys it all. It sounds sandpapered, bruised and battered, but vulnerable and gorgeous as well (like in First To Leave). Their voice plays a major role in why this collection of songs is so mesmerizing. When Hawes sings “Can’t you see, this don’t affect the life you lead. Me and my friends, just coz we don’t fit in the space between your binary bookends That’s alright. Yeah we didn’t choose this life. But that’s just fine. You can get on with yours without taking down mine,” these are no empty words, but lived experience. There is a realness and rawness in Hawes’ delivery on Remains​/​Reminders that makes it stand out.

Remains​/​Reminders is out now through Nasty Cut Records (EU), UTB Manchester (UK), Mt. Crushmore Records (US).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Nervous Nikki and the Chill Pills || St. Anthony’s Fire

“Baby, if you tell me its fine one more time // I will go crazy.” In the lyrics and video of Day Off we get a personal but recognizable insight into the family life of Nicole Bauza and her husband Doug Boice, respectively the singer/drummer and guitarist of Pennsylvania alt-rock band Nervous Nikki and the Chill Pills. Together with bassist Nathan Swavely and Kendal Thompson on guitar and keys, they have just released their new full-length album St. Anthony’s Fire, and it is as captivating and thoughtful as it is idiosyncratic and genre transcending. Apart from the authentic storytelling, it is the frontwoman’s heartfelt vocals – alternately singing and rapping! – that make the nine diverse songs here unique and distinctive. It works particularly well thanks to the loose musical backing, that is ramshackle one moment and groovy the next, with heavy guitars being deployed as easily as a sensitive harmonica. “There’s a chance one of these days I’m gonna write a hit song // And in the car while you’re driving you’ll be singing along // And there’s a chance the we’re never gonna make it // I ‘ll be happy by myself singing these songs down in the basement,” we hear in Here and Gone. As far as I’m concerned, several of these tunes should become hits – this album goes far beyond mediocrity.

St. Anthony’s Fire is out now digitally and on CD through Interdope Records. The title is the nickname for an illness prevalent during the middle ages brought on by poisoning from the ergot fungus found on rye. A drug derived from the same ergot fungus saved Nicole’s life a few years ago. She explains: “I was left in awe that something responsible for so much suffering and death could be used in a different way to save lives. Many of the themes in the album revolve around this play of cruelty and beauty in nature, surrendering to the roller coaster ride of life, and not confusing success with fulfillment.” That is also nicely depicted in the cover art by Catherine Hart.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: The Blackburns || The Blackburns

Joel Tannenbaum (Plow United, The Rentiers) and Nick Palmer (Wax Wav, The Danger-Os) started The Blackburns at some point last year. The creative synergy between the duo, along with additional members Lynna Stancato (vocals and synth) and Abe Koffenberger (guitar) was so strong they have released their full length debut within a year. It is out now courtesy of Sell The Heart Records.

The Blackburns are the kind of band I think will resonate with many of our readers. For starters, this band rocks! What’s more impressive though is their refusal to be confined to any specific subgenre. The album kicks off with Hooks, a glammy radio friendly rocker. It’s followed by Southern Chester County, which to my ears sounds like a modern power pop update of Shoes. Chill City Population You is ’90s alt pop hit material, while Status: Someday embodies the ’00s indie rock vibe. Drama Club sounds like Bob Mould at his catchiest. Listening to this album feels like tuning into a self-sustaining radio station where, instead of changing the channel, you’re eager to learn more about the band. It that applies to you as well, read more about The Blackburns in this interview at Sweet Sweet Music Blog.

Currently, only Hooks is available on Bandcamp. Find the remainder of the record on the streaming service of your choice.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Mythical Motors || Upside Down World

Robert Pollard döppelganger Matt Addison returns for yet another Mythical Motors record. The number of Mythical Motors albums has long surpassed countable limits on two hands; however, if you include the toes on your feet, you might just manage to tally them up – at least for now.

To suggest that Addison excels in crafting two-minute Guided By Voices-esque tunes would be both an understatement and misrepresentation. Mythical Motors casts a much wider net of influences. Where some would perceive scarcity and constraints, Addison sees opportunity, and his well of inspiration appears inexhaustible. On Upside Down World, Mythical Motors shed all extraneous weight, delivering songs devoid of overthinking or excessive tinkering, ensuring every fleeting moment resonates. In most songs, the lines between verses and choruses often blur, yet each segment carries an infectious quality, propelling the listener forward. And while none of the faders are in red, Upside Down World contains a pleasant amount of rockers.

Upside Down World is a lo-fi underground pop gem of a record. It simmers, it jangles, and it rocks. It is out today on tape at Repeating Cloud Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: The Wesleys || The Wesleys

Today, Montreal’s The Wesleys release their self-titled debut LP on Little Village Records. While the band name signals power pop, and the press release as primary influences mentions “iconic bands like The Clean, Teenage Fanclub, The Pixies, and The Replacements,” to my ears The Wesleys have a sound that originates in the thriving indie scene of the zeroes – this band would not have looked out of place on a bill with The Spinto Band, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, Surfer Blood and Throw Me The Statue.

The Wesleys is a fun little record showcasing a talented and creative band. The band’s tagline on Bandcamp is “a lil’ bit of this, a lil’ bit of that,” and they are not wrong. Expect snappy, smooth and bouncy indie tunes designed to get audiences moving, or at the very least provide an upgrade to your fresh music playlist – like I’ve Been Waiting, 25, Great Big Smile and A Lot To Lose.

If you need more reason to feel sympathetic towards this band, consider the backstory behind their name. Wesley was a beloved friend who tragically passed away far too soon, yet played a vital role in shaping the musical upbringing of one of the band’s founding members. What a way to pay homage.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Little Village Records

New album: Hutch Harris || Not Everyone is Loved

Portland, Oregon-based songwriter/singer/guitarist Hutch Harris outlived The Thermals, and his previous solo LP Suck Up All The Oxygen was thematically quite dark, but on his new record Not Everyone is Loved there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel. Obviously this is relative, with lyrics multiple interpretable, as becomes clear in I Will Love Again (“I know I can heal // I know I will be stronger in time // If only in my mind”) and Why My Life is Over (“I can be just who I want // I can do just what I wish // Every day I live forever and // Every day I don’t exist”), or actually in all eight original songs here. They form a personal and relatable album that is musically very accessible, with uplifting melodies, and those distinctive vocals that captivate as always. I really hope and assume that closing track A Place is not a farewell letter (“I’m leaving the life I have loved for so long // I’m leaving the world which I know to be wrong”), because we want to hear much more from this great musician.

Not Everyone is Loved is out now digitally and on handmade limited edition CD via Royal We Publishing (BMI).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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