Indie Rock

New EP: Head 1st || First

Please meet French indie-rock/post-punk outfit Head 1st and their debut EP First. We get five dynamic tracks with exciting tempo changes and vocals that radiate urgency as they present the haunting lyrics. Criticism of commerce is far from new in music, but standout track PR Says could easily become an anthem: “Your selling thin air // PR doesn’t care.” Each tune got its own video to further enhance the music, but on its own this sound will also get the audience moving.

The First EP is out now digitally (self-released). Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Pop Crimes || Gathered Together

In the category ‘cool name, cool band,’ here are Pop Crimes from Paris, France a band featuring members of En Attendant Ana, Blondi’s Salvation and Young Like Old Men. Gathered Together is Pop Crimes’ debut LP and it arrives after some very promising short format releases. The band lives up to the expectations. Gather Together is an accomplished contemporary indie rock record that harbors a wealth of influences and a whole lotta pop. Where some of the songs have hints of the Sarah Records section of your music collection, others will remind you of Pavement, and still others of Alvvays and even Joe Strummer. It makes for a varied record that sounds familiar, coherent and keep getting better with each spin.

Gather Together is out now on Howlin’ Banana, Safe In The Rain Records, & Les Disques Du Paradis.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Safe In The Rain || Les Disques Du Paradis

New album: State Drugs || Parade Of Red Flags

State Drugs are a sneaky good band from Denver, Colorado. Their latest album is called Parade Of Red Flags and is out now on Snappy Little Numbers & Ashtray Monument – the same labels that released their quite excellent 2021 LP Live. Laugh. Love.

On Parade Of Red Flags, State Drugs stay true to their signature sound. For the uninitiated, State Drugs play midpaced punkrock with a generous dose of alternative rock and pop. Get Samiam, Shades Apart and Buffalo Tom in a room together and you may end up with something sounding like State Drugs. As with their previous releases, Parade Of Red Flags is subtly captivating – like I said, this band is sneaky good. But opening with two standouts in Marathon To The Red Light and Crash Entry, it becomes immediately clear that this band wants you to be all ears. By the end of the record, they’ll have repaid you double.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Snappy Little Numbers || Ashtray Monument

New album: The Blips || Again

Two years ago, rock ‘n’ roll consortium The Blips captured our hearts and year-end lists with their self-titled debut album, and they continue that triumphant march with their sophomore LP, aptly titled Again. Although the band* consists of veteran front men from the Birmingham, Alabama rock scene who all hold their own when it comes to writing, singing or playing multiple instruments, this doesn’t lead to an ego battle but rather to a strengthening of forces. As if it takes no effort at all, we get another nine catchy tunes in which appealing elements of power pop, garage rock, alt-country and Southern rock come together (infectious hooks, guitar riffs, vocal harmonies and hand claps, that is). Worthy of your attention.

Again, written and produced by The Blips, is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Cornelius Chapel Records. *Featuring Taylor Hollingsworth, Chris McCauley, Wes McDonald, Will Stewart and Eric Wallace.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Wurld Series || The Giant’s Lawn

A downside of not being a native English speaker is that you sometimes misinterpret certain phrases. I wanted to start my write-up about the new Wurld Series LP The Giants’s Lawn by stating that the band from Christchurch (NZ) are not dialing it in. Then I looked up its meaning and discovered that I should actually state that Wurld Series are absolutely dialing it in on their new LP – I mistook the phrase for phoning it in. On their last LP What’s Growing, Wurld Series appealed to fans of classic indie rock. On The Giant’s Lawn they worked hard and meticulously on creating their own niche in the indie rock landscape. It’s an ambitious display of skill and talent.

The resulting record is not just a collection of songs to shuffle into a playlist, it’s an album that’s best experienced as a cohesive whole. The broad spectrum of influences channeled by Wurld Series and the deliberate sequencing on The Giant’s Lawn creates an organic ebb and flow, contributing to its collective strength. Some tracks offer immediate gratification reminiscent of their previous record – like Lord Of Shelves, Resplendent Fortress, and Friend To Man And Traffic. However, on other songs, Wurld Series experiment with a wider array of instruments, styles and even felines(!), yielding a more expansive sonic range. While the dividends of these tracks may unfold more gradually, they enrich the overall experience of listening to The Giant’s Lawn.

In a world where supply of entertainment is limitless and demand for attention extremely high, The Giant’s Lawn stands out as a bold artistic move, one that challenges, surprises, rewards and nourishes.

Out now on Melted Ice Cream (New Zealand & Rest of the World), Meritorio Records (Europe & USA).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Meritorio || Discogs

New album: Probleman || Kor har eg v​ø​rre i heile mett liv

Probleman (Trondheim, Norway) grabbed my interest with their debut EP last year. They hinted upon their debut album to be released in the first half of 2023. Apparently, it took a little longer but it is finally here. It is called Kor har eg v​ø​rre i heile mett liv (Where have I been all my life) and if it weren’t for the Norwegian in which these songs are sung, Probleman would be easily misidentified as an American band. But no, these emo tendencies and twinkly guitars are import only, Midtnorsk Emo for the win.

Kor har eg v​ø​rre i heile mett liv is out now on a very limited tape run of 60 at Slow Down Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New single: Scumming || Some Kind of Cap Swallower

You need not be Sherlock Holmes to induce that New Jersey duo Scumming are fans of Algernon Cadwallader. It’s right there in the title and cover art of their three-song single Some Kind of Cap Swallower – the nod to Algernon Cadwalladers’ Some Kind of Cadwallader album is far from subtle, nor should it be. The three songs are a poppy version of the mathy twinkly music of their heroes. “Twinkle Daddy Noodle Punk” is how the band’s Biff Swenson and Rudy Meier call it. It’s a familiar sound, but Scumming know how to execute. And honestly, that glockenspiel is hard to resist.

Released digitally by Mint 400 Records and physically by In The Clouds Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: Calling Hours || Say Less

Two years ago, Farside’s Popeye Vogelzang moved to Scranton (PA). Not because he’s a fan of the US version of The Office, but because he wanted to be with his soon-to-be wife. Landing in a different region, Vogelsang quickly started a new band with members of The Commercials and Don’t Sleep. Notably, this arrangement means that Don’t Sleep’s Garrett Rothman and Jim Bedorf currently share the stage with two iconic singers from the ’80s/’90s hardcore and punk scenes, with Dave Smalley being the other esteemed vocalist in the mix.

The Say Less EP is comprised of six heartland indie rock originals that are kind to the ears and a great vessel for the majestic voice of Popeye Vogelsang. Of the songs, Why Did It Have To Be Snakes and Heavy Future are probably closest to Farside, and Curtain Call stands out with its radio-friendly chorus. The EP ends on a high note with a masterfully executed cover of The Replacements’ Alex Chilton. Overall, I am enjoying this release a lot.

Like Farside, Calling Hours have found a home at Revelation Records. It blows my mind how much time has passed (and releases!) since REV: 69 (Farside’s final LP The Monroe Doctrine) and REV: 206 (this Calling Hours debut). Where did the time go?

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Revelation Records

New album: Hooper || Swim the Races Nobody Wants

Twelve years after releasing their debut single, Hooper (Denver) are back in the fold with their third LP, the sympathetically titled Swim the Races Nobody Wants. The album is a nostalgic nod to a time when punk bands dared to break free of genre constraints, or simply became more ambitious in their pursuit of mastering their instrument. Hooper are not easy to box in as college rock, indie rock, or alternative rock and pop, and yet all of their new songs fit in one of these categories.

I am not sure whether the album title hints at this, but Hooper’s play a style few bands seem to embrace nowadays, it’s music made for a bygone era – but I guess this applies to most of the music we write about. You can tell that Hooper feel right at home in their role as underdogs.

Swim the Races Nobody Wants is out now on LP at  Snappy Little Numbers, the label the band’s stayed loyal to throughout their career – and vice versa.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Bat Boy || Fun Machine

Bat Boy is a three-piece from Richmond and their debut LP Fun Machine has been out for a couple of weeks.  However, it remained untouched in my playlist until this week. What prompted the change? The shuffle function threw the wonderful Noticing Things in my lap. Perhaps it was a cosmic sign, but I didn’t even notice the song’s title before deciding the record deserved more than a cursory glance.

And so I played the record front-to-back without skipping any of the tracks. I did that a couple of times more, and I was so wrong to sit on this record. From the get-go, Fun Machine has the making of a quality indie punk record. It boasts strong melodies, a playful and energetic sound, and strikes a perfect balance between nostalgic vibes (RIYL: Discount, The Muffs,Tilt) and contemporary influences (RIYL: Lemuria, Worriers, Muncie Girls). All these elements find their rightful place in the capable hands of Bat Boy.

Four-word review: Cool band, cool record.

BAT BOY is Jake Guralnik, Cory Chub, and Hannah Eagle, who you may know respectively of Spraynard, Sundials and the podcast I’m In Love With A Girl Named Spike “A Degrassi Podcast.” Fun Machine is out now on Asian Man records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

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