Indie Rock

New single: Dan Webb and the Spiders || WELL WELL

Dan Webb’s new single is called WELL WELL. It follows four recent EPs called Hey Guys and Guess What, Ghost Pipe and Pipeline 2020. Webb sure has a preference for two word titles, doesn’t he? It’s not the only consistent aspect of these recent releases of DWatS. Dan Webb has been on a roll for quite some time, finding the right balance between quantity and quality in his songs.

Webb is the kind of artist that is always open to new experiences and learning from others. That’s why he recorded the two songs on the WELL WELL single with the legendary Steve Albini. Webb explains: “The Spiders and I had recorded some songs at Electrical Audio for our 4th LP, Perfect Problem, back in 2015. At that session I was really impressed with how open Steve was to sharing his process and recording insights with us. These days I have been recording a lot of my own releases. So in an effort to improve, I decided to go back and record some more material there, this time with a new focus on learning as much as I could from the experience.”

WELL WELL is more than a succesful learning experience. Both songs are excellent, with Albini giving the song zero polish and a lot of punch. Kid has an alternative ’90s feel to it. Breaks has hints of Mikey Erg who recorded his most recent LP with Albini as well.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: The Van Pelt || Artisans & Merchants

Between 1993 and 1997, American emo/indie rock band The Van Pelt – “making sounds for listeners” – made quite an impression with tastemakers. Their Sultans Of Sentiment LP is truly a cult classic (re-issued last year), which now gets a worthy successor a quarter of a century later. I’ve listened to the nine new songs on Artisans & Merchants quite often recently, but still can’t fully grasp them. On first hearing you would push this record into the post-punk corner, but it’s actually much richer than that. For example, check out how much is happening in exciting singles Grid (with a cool video featuring skateboarder Keith Hardy) and Image of Health (“faith sounds like fate”), or in personal favorite Did We Hear the Same Song (with a rhythm that could have been by Talking Heads). This is immersive music with amazing lyrics, a very welcome comeback.

Artisans & Merchants, recorded/mixed by Jeff Zeigler, is out now digitally and on vinyl LP through Spartan Records (North America), Gringo Records (UK) and La Castanya (Europe and rest of the world). Featuring guest appearances by Nate Kinsella and Ted Leo (brother of frontman Chris Leo), among others.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs || Spartan

New album: Whitney’s Playland || Sunset Sea Breeze

If you’d like to know what the fuzz is with Whitney’s Playland (San Francisco) and their debut LP Sunset Sea Breeze, I don’t have a direct answer. Whitney’s Playland is Inna Showalter and George Tarlson. Their work in acts like Grandma’s Boyfriend, Blades of Joy, Modern Charms helps to partly explain why this is an anticipated project. But are the songs any good? The first couple times I played Sunset Sea Breeze my mind drew blank. I didn’t know what to think, had no clear recollection of most of the songs, the music slipping away like water between my fingers. I knew one thing only. There is something here, this is a special record. So I kept at it. I’m still doing that. I’m enjoying the process, digging the songs more and more. Here’s where I am at right now: Sunset Sea Breeze is an understated gem of an indie pop record, with gorgeous melodies and beautiful dreamy vocals by Inna Showalter. It makes me feel things. Like I said, I don’t have a direct answer. Other people have put their thoughts on Sunset Sea Breeze way better than I am capable of. Read the reviews at our friends of Janglepophub and RSTB, for example.

I do know this. Sunset Sea Breeze is a must listen if your are into indie pop and classic indie rock. Even if it doesn’t click right away, keep playing it. It is like a whisper, and those are easy to miss in our attention demanding society. Give Sunset Sea Breeze a chance, and it may very well end up as one of your favorites of the year. Buy the LP through Meritorio Records and the Tape through Paisley Shirt, although the latter may be sold out already.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Meritorio || Paisley Shirt

New album: Local Drags || Mess Of Everything

This doesn’t happen often, but for once I received and listened to the physical copy of a record before its digital release. I’m talking about the new Local Drags LP Mess of Everything – out now through Stardumb (LP) and Memorable But Not Honorable (Tape). I guess Stefan Stardumb was in a hurry to make some much needed room in his office, with all those highly anticipated boxes of Apers and Groovie Ghoulies vinyl reissues lying around.

Pre-ordering the new Local Drags (essentially a solo project by Lanny Durbin) was a no-brainer. I loved his two previous Local Drags albums, as well as his recent release with Starter Jackets. Mess Of Everything marks a new step in Durbin’s career. It’s not a giant leap, this still very much is a Local Drags LP. But it is noticeably different from Keep Me Glued and Shit’s Looking Up. Like the artwork, Mess Of Everything is more abstract, more colorful, and less easy to grasp in a couple of listens. While Durbin draws from a punkrock lineage, he has created something contemporary and fresh without losing any of his melodic touch. Mess of Everything sees Durbin exploring different instruments (is that a slide guitar?), tones and take a more ambitious and layered approach. Luke McNeill (The Copyrights, Starter Jackets, Hospital Job) did a great job recording this record as well.

One of the strengths of Local Drags has always been the stripped down quality of the songs that automatically find their way underneath your skin. Mess Of Everything offers deeper levels to explore. Standout songs like Good For Nothin and Total Down, two songs that mark the end of Side A and start of Side B (ending one side and starting another on a high note, I love that sequence), are great examples of Durbin broadening his songwriting to something bigger, with great harmonies to sooth your soul and tickle your ears.

Mess of Everything is not a copy of Keep Me Glued and Shit’s Looking Up. It shows growth and a fearlesness to mix things up. The result is a truly great indiepunk/indierock record that still gets better with each spin.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Stardumb || Discogs

New EP: Sewage Farm || Mould

In the world of new releases, new often is a relative term. That certainly applies to the Mould EP by Sewage Farm. The UK band recorded the EP live in their rehearsal room back in 2019, coincidentally their final band time together before the pandemic. In 2022, Sewage Farm revisited the songs added some extra vocals and guitar tracks.

Sewage Farm was an unknown band to me, despite this EP, their first on Safe Suburban Home Records, apparently succeeding three albums. The Mould EP changes that instantly. Sewage Farm mix ’90’s alt pop with classic indie rock influences. They know how to write a hook, and combine loud guitars with pretty sweet melodies. Listen to Broken Bridge for example. That is a hell of a track! Limited Tape run available at Safe Suburban Home.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Liquid Mike || Liquid Mike

The last time we checked in with Liquid Mike (Marquette, Michigan), the future of the band was in doubt. With drummer Cody Marecek moving to a different part of the country, I kinda expected the band to call it quits. I recall Liquid Mike’s Mike Maple sounding pessimistic about the band’s future in a social media post. But lo and behold, this week a new Liquid Mike record dropped, simply called Liquid Mike. It was recorded remotely last Winter, and despite the increase in physical distance, Cody still is involved in writing songs and recording drums. Zach Alworden joined on bass, and brought new inspiration with his playing style.

Inspired is the word that keeps coming to mind while listening to the 11 songs on the record. Energetic another. Liquid Mike sounds like the people involved simply plugged in their instruments, pressed record and had a blast together. The record combines the spontaneity of first takes with the tightness of a well oiled machine. Liquid Mike sounds super catchy, accessible and good mood inducing on this one, like they found another gear. Happy to see Liquid Mike alive and kicking, even more happy with how good and how much fun this record is. Barely 18 minutes long, the Liquid Mike album doesn’t demand much of your time, but believe me, it’ll be time well spent.

Liquid Mike is streaming now. Kitschy Spirit Records is handdubbing the record on a limited run of Tapes.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Eyelids || A Colossal Waste Of Light

American supergroup Eyelids – Chris Slusarenko (Guided by Voices), John Moen (The Decemberists), Victor Krummenacher (Camper Van Beethoven), Jonathan Drews (Sunset Valley) and Paulie Pulvirenti (Atomic 61) – are back with a new full-length album, A Colossal Waste of Light, produced by Peter Buck (R.E.M.). So you know what to expect: quality guitar pop with captivating melodies and mesmerizing vocal harmonies, in the jangly tradition of Flying Nun and Paisley Underground. Past performance is no guarantee for the future, but the 13 powerful songs here easily live up to the high expectations.

A Colossal Waste Of Light is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Jealous Butcher Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs || Jealous Butcher

New album: Comic Sans || Éramos Felices Y No Lo Sab​í​amos

Naming you band after one of the least cool and most hated fonts is a bold move. But Comic Sans adds a lot of cool points to the typeface of questionable repute with their new (I guess 2nd?) full length Éramos Felices Y No Lo Sab​í​amos. The LP offers 21 minutes of twinkly and mathy emo goodness. Not the slowcore, but the energetic and dynamic kind of emo, with timely group vocals for that anthemic feel that works so well in this kind of music. The songs on Éramos Felices Y No Lo Sab​í​amos are smartly build and have a visceral effect. Feel those twinkly guitars tickle your brain, your head boppping automatically, your pulse racing and slowing down like ebb and flow.

Consider the labels involved in the vinyl release: BCore, La Agonía de Vivir, Through Love Records, Pifia Records, Eternalis Records, Clever Eagle Records, Saltamarges, Navalla Discos, Mise-en-Scéne Records, and Azkar Zintak. When you get that many labels excited about your music, you are doing something right!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Spirit Ghost || Melting Right Before Your Eyes

Very nice, a new full-length album from Spirit Ghost is floating out of your speakers. In ten years, this project by American songwriter Alex Whitelaw (vocals, guitar) has grown from solo bedroom music exercises to a venerable garage pop band featuring Billy Hickey (drums), Guitar: Tim Zoidis (guitar) and John Bergin (bass, violin). The nine tracks (there are also two interludes) on Melting Right Before Your Eyes are richly orchestrated and sound amazing, with influences ranging from folk and crooners to surf rock and garage psych – as if Bryan Ferry has taken care of Mystic Braves. Somehow that combination works wonderfully, and a moody and jangly chamber pop song like single I Prayed turns out to go well together with infectious and energetic neo-psychedelic tunes like Got a Feeling, Walk Back and No Future. And although most of the lyrics are on the gloomy side, this record still has an uplifting effect.

Melting Right Before Your Eyes is out now digitally (self-released).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Black Adidas || Black Adidas

L.A.-based Courtney Ranshaw combines a strongly developed brain – he is a rocket scientist (i.e., an aerospace engineer), a feat too cool to leave out of this post, with a punk rock heart. Ranshaw writes music under the Black Adidas moniker. On the sophomore Black Adidas LP, which like the 2018 debut is self-titled, Ranshaw is joined by Daniel Alexander (keyboards), Carl Raether (bass), and drummers Kari G. Child and Rob Wolk who share their drumsticks across the record.

The Black Adidas LP is a powerful record full of midpaced gritty and soulful punk rock tunes. Ranshaw has a distinct voice that at times reminds me of Tim Armstrong or Johnny Peebucks (Swingin’ Utters), but operates at a lower register. Listen to My Favourite Song for example, one of the standout tracks on the record. Ranshaw’s voice has a required taste kind of quality. To some listeners it could be off putting, but to most ears (including mine) Ranshaw’s vocals – mixing singing with barking and something eerily close to talksinging, will be a major part of the appeal of the band’s sound. What also stands out with the Black Adidas LP is its anthemic quality, a lot of these songs sound huge. Though sonically different, the band reminds me of The Hold Steady in terms of being unafraid to rock out and channeling classic rock to create something powerful, familiar and cummunal, inviting fans to shout along and forget their daily struggles for a while.

Featuring 8 originals and one Ramones cover (Howling at the Moon), Black Adidas is out now through Dirt Cult.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

Scroll to Top