Indie Rock

New EP: Dan Webb And The Spiders || Guess What

Let’s start with the bad news. Dan Webb And The Spiders right now are on an indefinite touring hiatus. The result of moving from Boston to Ohio and Webb’s desire to spend more time with his young children. The good news? Webb still finds time to write and record new music. It’s a full on solo endeavour with Webb playing all the instruments. The best news? Webb still writes kickass songs. The songs on his latest EP Guess What – the title refers to the two words Webb’s 4-year old starts most of his sentences with), are solid blend of punk, rock, and altpop. Songs that musically keep getting better with each play, and lyrically seem informed by the major changes in Webb’s life recently. Real Good Reason is probably my favorite song on the EP, it’s the kind of anthem that young dads will sing along to proudly and loudly while desperately fighting to hold back the tears.

“I got a real good reason || To be better than I || Ever thought I could be || With no surprises || And it’s even more true || Than it was yesterday || So I try to hold on || Before it slips way.”

I for one am grateful that Webb is able to combine his family life with writing new music. And fortunately, the solo version of DWatS doesn’t fit the dad rock genre yet, but I t hink that once that happens, I’ll still be listening.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Half Smile || Half Smile

Half Smile is a new band of three from Atlanta, Georgia. That’s about all the information I can find about the band. I do like the self-titled record they just dropped though – I have to assume it’s their debut. Half Smile play a brand of indie rock that is rough around the edges and has some solid ’90s altrock and emo influences. Most of the record moves at a decent pace, giving their sound a punky or garagy vibe – a sense that is strengthened by the complete lack of polish in the production.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Say Sue Me || The Last Thing Left

It’s been more than four years since South Korean indie pop/rock quartet Say Sue Me (세이수미) released Where We Were Together, an album that has made quite a few rounds on my record player, that even ended up at No. 2 on my 2018 year-end list. During the pandemic, when touring was not possible, Byungkyu Kim (lead guitar), Sumi Choi (vocals, rhythm guitar), Jaeyoung Kim (bass) and Sungwan Lim (drums) quietly started working on a new full-length, and here’s the result. Self-recorded and self-produced at the band’s own Busan studio, The Last Thing Left is more subdued and less bouncy than its successful predecessor – a sign of the times but also of maturing, I guess (“Nobody seems to care for truth // I’m getting far from my youth” – from Around You). The 10 new songs, leaning heavily on themes of love, loss, loneliness, grief and healing (the band’s original drummer, Semin Kang, passed away in 2019), need a few listens to win you over. The charm, melancholy and brightness have remained though, just like the angelic vocals and jangly guitar melodies (with surf and twang twists). This is timeless music to cherish, music that can comfort you at any time.

The Last Thing Left is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Damnably Records and Beach Town Music.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Spread Joy || II

31 minutes. That’s the cumulative time it takes to listen to Spread Joy’s self-titled debut (2021) and their follow-up II, which is out now through Feel It Records. 31 minutes may seem barely enough to play a full live show. But Spread Joy (Chicago) won’t need much more to convince you of their aptitude in playing tight and exciting no wave punk. Like on Spread Joy’s debut, the angular guitar work and the sweet bass riffs are again in perfect synergy, and the vocal chords of Briana Hernandez are a great fit to that sound- Hernandez effortlessly switches between sounding edgy, suspenseful, dangerous, pissed off and sweet on II.

II is a varied, and at time almost hypnotic record. It starts at a blistering pace with Ow and Spa Schedule, before moving into pop territory with the major hit Repetition. Ich Sehe Dich is also quite poppy, almost like a throwback to the B-52’s. My current favorite is Chatter, where Hernandez talksings and shrieks over a sweet repetitive guitar riff. Cool stuff, really!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New album: Pkew Pkew Pkew || Open Bar

The music of Pkew Pkew Pkew (Toronto) is tailor made for the weekend. It’s loud, it’s fun and perfect for hangouts and singalongs with your friends. In terms of songwriting, the band has made quite the leap from the sheer bluntness and obnoxious of their debut LP – which I absolutely loved. On the band’s latest record (Open Bar), and helped out by Craig Finn (The Hold Steady), Pkew Pkew Pkew succesfully incorporates classic rock influences in their powerful punk sound. In that sense, Open Bar shares several of the strengths of last year’s excellent Sam Coffey And The Iron Lungs’ Real One: anthemic punk rock that will set smaller venues on fire but will also work on a larger stage. It’s Pkew Pkew Pkew at their boldest and most creative yet – the result of a lacking hard deadline and a producer (Jon Drew) down to trying new stuff.

Open Bar is out now through Dine Alone Records. It’s a new Pkew Pkew Pkew record! It’s the weekend. All is good!

Add to wantlist: Dine Alone Records

New album: Roku Rousu & The I.O.N.S. || The Imaginary One-Night Stands

Roku Rousu (vocals, guitar) has been around in the Finnish indie scene for a while, but with his new band The I.O.N.S. – Joo Karjalainen (drums, keys), Mikko Siven (bass) and Sussu Ketola (keys) – imaginary ambitions could just become reality. The quartet has mastered an interesting combination of styles: influences from early 60’s pop, late 60’s psych and 90’s alternative rock are cleverly mixed with contemporary folk, power pop and indietronica. On their full-length debut album The Imaginary One-Night Stands (in case you were still wondering what I.O.N.S. means, here’s your answer), you’ll hear eight genre-transcending tracks – diverse and mind-boggling, always melodic, upbeat and surprising. Let’s hope The I.O.N.S.’ passion for music beats the temptations of Video Games & Heroin.

The Imaginary One-Night Stands is out now digitally via Kynsinauhat.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: The OK Nines || Sunwoofer

The OK Nines are a new band from Berkeley (California), who play a brand of ’90s mid-fi indie rock and altpop that is delightfully jangly and slightly twee. Songs like I Am A Dog and 1,000,000 Treats show a lot of potential and hint upon great things to come for The OK Nines.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Mr Gé & The Crazy Drivers Of The Nowhere Road || Les Grands Enfants

Based on the band name you’d expect that this is a large gypsy-punk band, but Mr Gé & The Crazy Drivers Of The Nowhere Road turns out to be a solo project. The Frenchman who calls himself Mr Gé does all the songwriting, recording, production and art work. Everything you hear on his new album Les Grands Enfants he sang and played himself (besides drums, bass and various guitars, he also used a harp, a drum machine and analog synths sequences, keyboards, a Tunisian oud, a zither and kitchen tools – he could be the one Tom Waits is talking about in What’s He Building?). That’s impressive, but was it worth it? The answer is yes (otherwise we wouldn’t write about it), but it’s an idiosyncratic and theatrical record that takes a while to grasp what’s going on. It’s dark indie folk with French lyrics, intense vocals, complex structures and cinematic soundscapes, but also with appealing tempo changes and guitar solos. It rocks and it creaks, to slowly intoxicate you. The 14 DIY songs feel like a musical imagination of a trip on the Nowhere Road (I guess Tom Waits lives around there somewhere), fascinating in every way.

Les Grands Enfants is out now digitally and on a limited edition CD with original paintings (Home & Away).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: The Stroppies || Levity

I know the city of Melbourne is overrepresented on our site, but believe me when I say we’re not paying geographical favors, it’s all about the music. And The Stroppies are not just any Melbourne band, they are yet another GREAT Melbourne band.

On Levity, The Stroppies’ latest record, they sound more experimental than before, taking their jangly indierock into different territories. Part of this is due to the pandemic and writing music individually and in isolation, whereas previously the song ideas were build in collobaration. Underneath the increasingly complex instrumentation remains the pop sensibility of The Stroppies and the slack guitar work. The end result is a strong mix of growers and instant hits. If you are looking for quick rewards, listen to songs like The Perfect Crime, Up To My Elbows and Figure Eights. If you like to be challenged and be rewarded for your patience, listen to songs like Material Condition or Caveats. Or even better yet, listen to the whole thing!

Levity is out now through Tough Love Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New album: Night Court || Nervous Birds! Too

Last December we proudly premiered Night Court’s debut album Nervous Birds! One, just in time to crack my favorite records of the year. We explained back then, and it’s kinda self-explanatory from the title, that Nervous Birds! One was always meant to be followed up and is in fact part of a duology. Now, within 6 months, part two is already here. Given the sheer awesomeness of part one and the fact that Night Court recorded all songs of the duology in three manic, hyperfocused and creativity bursted sessions, the only way part two would suck is if they’d put all their best songs on Nervous Birds! One.

But no, you need only one round trip of Nervous Birds! Too to realize the band has spread the wealth evenly. That round trip only takes 15 minutes or so, in which Night Court treats us to 13 additional sweet lofi indie/punk/pop nuggets. With most songs recorded in one or two takes at most, the spontaneity of Night Court is contagious and one of the band’s biggest assets. It certainly helps that the band throws a hook at you every few seconds and restrain their songs to the interesting parts only. I wish more bands took that approach. Night Court is always soaring, never boring.

In short, if you’ve liked Nervous Birds! One, you will like Nervous Bird Too (too). If this is the first time you hear Night Court, I sorta envy you. There is such a joy in discovering this band. Below are some portals to the Night Court universe, arbitrarily picked because, let’s face it, most of them are hits.

Nervous Birds! Too will be out on Cassette through Snappy Little Numbers and Debt Offensive. Fingers crossed that 1) Night Court’s duology ever gets pressed on vinyl (or CD at the very least), and 2) this won’t be the last release by the magic combination of Jiffy Marx, David Soul, and Emilor Jayne.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Debt Offensive || Snappy Little Numbers

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