Indie Rock

New album: Pony Hunt || VAR!

VAR! is the second album by Pony Hunt. The press releases describes the sound of the band as psychedelic folk, which makes sense I guess, but it understates how varied the soundscapes are on VAR!. The album opens strongly with Pulse, a mesmerizing song that seems to come from a different era. It’s the first of many standouts, like the gorgeous Stardust, the dreamy Rise and the modern indie rock oriented Stardust and That Feeling.

In terms of its direction, VAR! is an outlier in my musical diet, but one I find myself returning to. Most likely, this is due to the power, honesty and vulnerability in the voice of Jessie Antonick, who truly takes these songs to a different level. Her voice goes beyond mere talent. I like to believe that her life experiences and travels add an additional emotional layer to her voice – at different times, Antonick lived on a sailboat and in a chevy van. Antonick’s identity struggles, a central theme on the record, likely also factor in

The second main draw of VAR! is Pony Hunt’s ability to create something fresh and exciting out of the many different generations of American music. Pony Hunt makes you get lost in the woods and then drops crumbs of doo-wop, folk, country, indie rock, blues, soul and punk to help you claw your way back; It’s quite the adventure. VAR! is out now on Wing And Wing, including a limited edition with a handmade lyric book.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Wing And Wing

New EP: Meal || Jimmy

Each day we receive many Bandcamp notifications of new releases. When we hear something we like, we usually try to find the band on Spotify and add one or two songs to our new music playlist. It’s always a surprise to see how many monthly listeners a band has on the platform, and for a blog like ours it becomes a sport to find cool new artists with as few listeners as possible. Here is a band that currently has zero (!) monthly listeners. I don’t mean that as a brag, but as an encouragement to become an early adopter, because they sound pretty good.

I’m talking about Meal, a band I only know four things about: they are from Finland, they started the band in 2019, they are impossible to google, and their (debut?) EP is out now on cassette on State Champion Records. The six songs on the Jimmy EP jump from indie rock to post punk with angular guitars to altpunk, sometimes all in one song like the standout title track. Another band that deserves way more listeners.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || State Champion Records

New album: Golden Apples || Shadowland

I am at the point of the pandemic where my brain automatically associates album titles with the state of the world. In case of the new Golden Apples record, my brain may actually be right for once. The title of the record is Shadowland and the album cover has a map of the home where it was recorded. Clearly this has to be about the anxiety and ultimate acceptance of being isolated, but also the safety and comfort of being home. With Shadowland, Golden Apples (formerly known on the moniker Cherry) have created an album to those longing for new indie rock that recalls the good old days without sounding derivative.

The album opens strongly with Theme From Shadowland, which is somewhere in the middle of Fleet Foxes and Beach Boys. Forever Hollow matches the slacker rock vibe of Pavement with fuzzy guitars. Tamara Lee is another highlight, but Shadowland is best experienced in full. It’s the kind of record capable of reviving human beings who are cynical about the current state of indie rock.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Lame-o Records

New EP: Rick The Loser || Combat Boots

Rick The Loser is a low key side-project of Novia Scotia based singer/songwriter Eric Stephen Martin. Under his real name, Martin appears to adopt a more traditional singer/songwriter indiefolk sound. He will release his new record in a couple of weeks on his own (smartly titled) label Three First Names Records, and the first two teaser tracks are quite beautiful, particularly When I Get Back To My Feet.

But let’s talk about Martin’s other project, the one he doesn’t want us to talk about. As Rick The Loser, at least on the Combat Boots EP, Martin chugs out four classic timeless pop songs disguised as slack indie rock and garage pop. When I first heard Strange Dreams, I was blown away by how good of a song it is. It probably is my favorite recent discovery. Just My Luck is another instant favorite, but the other two tracks on the EP are far from fillers. The Bandcamp page of Rick The Loser features more recordings from the pandemic months, most of which is more mellow and more experimental than the songs on the Combat Boots EP. There is also a cover EP with a great deconstruction of Last Caress by the Misfits. To be honest, I wouldn’t mind a physical release of Rick The Loser’s lockdown recordings at all.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Drinking Boys And Girls Choir || Marriage License

Deagu City, Korea will make a first appearance on the wantlist in 1,2,3,4. Meet Drinking Boys And Girls Choir, a punk threesome that released their debut album in 2019 but only now popped on my radar with their short but sweet sophomore album Marriage License. The band is inspired by Sum41, NOFX and the hardcore/punk/indiescene of Deagu in the ’90s and ’00s. I am not sure whether you can pinpoint those influences on Marriage License though. There is a lot of variety on the record, and the band’s sound ranges from speedy hardcorepunk (Hit The Corner, Grab The Chance) to dreamy indierock (My Second Universe, Time). The band toured with fellow Koreans Say Sue Me, and I hear touches of that band in these latter songs. For me, the band shines brightest when they play the kind of indiepunk of bands like Martha, Joanna Gruesome and Radiator Hospital (on their early albums) excel in. I am referring to songs like There is No Spring and Odoby. Listen below. And while you are listening, make sure to read more about the band and their struggle for LGBTQ acceptance back home, which will help to understand the title of record.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp 

Gimme 5! Geoff Palmer Shares 5 Albums That Influenced Charts And Graphs (Out 7/23)

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.

If I had a paper calendar, there would be a big red circle on Friday July 23rd. That date marks the release of the highly anticipated new Geoff Palmer record Charts And Graphs. I’ll write a review on it later this week, but I can already say that if you are a fan of Geoff Palmer’s previous solo album Pulling Out All The Stops, but also his work in The Connection, New Trocaderos, and Kurt Baker Band, you are guaranteed to like the new record as well. And yet, Charts And Graphs sees Geoff expanding his sound in different directions. Geoff recently discussed this with the excellent powerpop blog Sweet Sweet Music: “I love change. One thing that has always been a judge of success for me with a record or a band is doing something new, playing new places, trying new ideas for writing styles, new production ideas, anything we haven’t done before.” [post continues below]

New album: Boy Golden || Church of Better Daze

After a great uplifting single, Boy Golden now releases his debut album Church of Better Daze, which as a whole is just as enjoyable. The Canadian songwriter / musician / audio engineer called Liam Duncan in real life only wants one thing – enjoy each day and make good music – and thanks to collaboration, common goals and lots of cannabis, he succeeds very well with this character and concept. It’s a quirky, intriguing and cool record, with positive lyrics and summery, mellow melodies. Musically it’s a potpourri of indie, garage rock, alt-country, glam and gospel – varied, experimental and versatile (you keep hearing new Easter eggs) – but miraculously it works out well. Church of Better Daze is out now digitally, on CD, cassette and vinyl LP, through Six Shooter Records. For fans of JJ Cale, Dope Lemon, Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard. Stream the full album below.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Six Shooter Records

New album: Christopher Peifer || The Social Distance

Music is front and center in the life of Christopher Peifer. The New Yorker works as a producer and sound designer, and throughout the years has amassed an extensive discography with acts such as Kowalskis, Blockhouses, Sir, Frances Farmer My Hero, and Heavy Creatures. He released a more than solid solo record last year called Suicide Mission, which I enjoyed but ultimately got lost in the continous flow of new music. Now, less than a year later, Peifer has released the follow up, the appropriately titled The Social Distance. I have a feeling this one won’t get lost.

The Social Distance is 30 minutes of powerpop heaven. It’s how I imagine it would sound if Paul Westerberg and Nick Lowe started a band together. Sometimes this particular brand of powerpop can sound too glossy, or too dad rock like, but you don’t have to worry about that with Peifer. He infuses his songs with just the right amount of punk and rock-‘n’-roll attitude, and his sandpaper voice has the perfect grit size. The Social Distance truly is an outstanding collection of songs with guaranteed lifetime replayability.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Recreational Mouthwash || If That Means Anything

I am not sure how I stumbled upon If That Means Anything , the debut album by Recreational Mouthwash. The queer indiepop four-piece from New York plays a kind of music I don’t usually go for. But yesterday I had it on my headphones while walking in a summer drizzle, and for some reason, it just clicked. I was drawn in by album opener Everything But You, a minor masterpiece with soulfully sung deeply personal lyrics, wandering instruments, cool guitar licks and a slow buildup to a cathartic release. The sheer musical talent and the willingness to travel different musical paths in the song distantly reminds me of Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s II album. Everything But You essentially offers a blueprint of the music of Recreational Mouthwash, a band that takes their time in building up tension in their songs and play around with delayed rewards for listeners. The emotional edge, sense of urgency, the stellar guitar work and pop sensibilities in the music of Recreational Mouthwash sets the band up for a bigger stage, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this band explode rather sooner than later. If That Means Anything is quite the leap from my usual musical diet, but I like it a lot.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: So Cow || Bisignis

I was today years old when I discovered that the word business finds its origins in the Old English word bisignis. And wouldn’t you know, bisignis actually stands for anxiety, making the origins of business rather cynical and disturbing.

It also makes for a perfect album title in the year 2021, so a tip to the hat to Irish indie rockers So Cow for naming their seventh album Bisignis. It was recorded in a shed of a rented house in a couple of days during the third lockdown in Ireland. Despite the late pandemic and existential dread, Bisignis sounds like a fun collection of unfussy indierock with fuzzy guitars and solid melodies and hooks. Like all previous So Cow albums, it’s by no means a perfect album. But like all previous So Cow albums, Insignis includes some pop perfect indie rock hits. Check out Not Anything At All, Barry Two (a sequel to the band’s 2014 hit Barry Richardson) and Requests.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Dandy Boy Records || So Cow

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