Indie Rock

New album: Grey Blue Ashes || Shallow People

Italy is home to so many great bands in the pop punk/powerpop stratosphere, it’s easy to miss a band here and there. Take Rome threepiece Grey Blue Ashes, a band I haven’t heard before. Shallow People is the band’s (Rome, Italy) second album and most recent output, which follows their 2019 debut. On Shallow People, Grey Blue Ashes are not your typical Italian pop punk band though. They sound like punks who play a lot of ‘90s altpop, and ‘80s powerpop and new wave in their tour van. It’s like Jeff Burke and Bob Mould joined forces out of a shared love for the Dirtnap Records catalogue, early The Police, ’80s powerpop and ’90s britpop, if that makes sense.

Shallow People is out now on pretty spectacular looking Half Blue/Half Yellow w/Black Splatter Vinyl through Otitis Media Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Otitis Media Records

New album: EggS || A Glitter Year

The saxophone had been relegated to the brink for a while, but it seems the shiny instrument has returned to grace in rock music. It also features prominently on A Glitter Year, the full-length debut album by Parisian 7-piece EggS, although that may not be a good benchmark because founder/main composer Charles Daneau’s collective doesn’t take into account what may or may not be cool. And that’s probably what makes them so cool. The 12 songs here are unpretentiously nonchalant, slightly chaotic and uplifting ramshackle, all compliments in our report. The guitars jangle, the boy/girl vocal interplay is charming, sax and keyboard make the sound extra eccentric. Indie rock the way indie rock should be. RIYL Ex-Vöid, The Bug Club, Holiday Ghosts, Bodega, Jeanines (also for fans of the releases on Flying Nun and Sarah Records).

A Glitter Year is out now digitally and on vinyl LP through Howlin’ Banana Records, Prefect Records and Safe In The Rain Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs || Howlin’ Banana || Prefect

New album: Dot Dash || Madman In The Rain

Singer/guitarist Terry Banks (Tree Fort Angst, St. Christopher, Julie Ocean and the Saturday People), bassist Hunter Bennett (Julie Ocean) and drummer Danny Ingram (founding member of Youth Brigade, Emmapeel, Madhouse) have nothing left to prove. They have made their mark with several memorable and classic records. For the past 11 years, their main project has been Dot Dash, releasing six full lengths in that period. If this is the first time you hear about Dot Dash, i can’t really recommend one out of the six. All of these records are worth checking out. Dot Dash simply seem incapable of making a bad record, and if you’d make a greatest hits record of the band’s discography, it would feature an equal amount of songs from each release. Those who are familiar with the band, will probably smile at the idea of a greatest hits record, and how insanely great that would be.

Dot Dash’s last album dates back to 2018, and I was surprised to discover there is a new one out this week. It’s called Madman In The Rain, and Banks, Bennett and Ingram again do not disappoint. Madman In The Rain will sound instantly familiar to fans – the warm and distinct voice of Banks is such a joy to behold. The band’s sound still has firm roots in eighties music and is a mix of jangly powerpop, mod, punk and indie rock. Songs like Forever Far Out, Tense & Nervous, Airwaves and Saints / Pharaohs are prototypical Dot Dash hits. The new record feels more varied than the average Dot Dash record though. There are more pop oriented and slower songs, and the record closes with Dead Gone, a song that may very well be the most upbeat song in the band’s discography yet – I have to test this assumption later.

Dot Dash have nothing left to prove but they keep going at it, winning over hearts and minds of music fans one at a time. Really, this band deserves a much bigger fanbase. Or like Dot Dash sing “You can’t go on, you can’t go back. You gotta have a heart to have a heart attack.” Madman In The Rain is out now through The Beautiful Music.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Personal Trainer || Big Love Blanket

A band name is something to take seriously, so it seemed appropriate to do my sports rounds with Big Love Blanket by Personal Trainer on the headphones this weekend. A motivating experience, worth repeating. The Amsterdam-based indie rock collective around founder Willem Smit (Canshaker Pi, Palio Superspeed Donkey, Steve French) had already impressed with their dynamic live shows, and their highly anticipated full-length debut album lives up to the high expectations. Each of the ten songs – they’ve slowly but surely come to full maturity during the countless concerts – is different, exciting and unpredictable. The subgenres and good ideas tumble over each other without causing a mess, sounds that would be out of place elsewhere do work here. Signature song The Lazer is an indestructible hit, but almost every other tune is also memorable. Willem Smit (vocals), Abel Tuinstra (keys, samples, trombone), Kilian Kayser (percussion), Ruben van Weegberg (bass), Kick Kluiving (drums), Franti Maresova (guitar) and Leon Harms (guitar) know how to transfer their unbridled energy to their audience.

Big Love Blanket is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through The Industry/Konkurrent.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New EP: Tramhaus || Rotterdam

Dutch live sensation Tramhaus follow up their single I Don’t Sweat b/w Karen Is A Punk with a four-track EP named after their hometown Rotterdam. Opening song Make It Happen has become a classic in no time, an anthem with a bewitching melody and convincing lyrics. The title refers to the city’s slogan (“one which provokes a feeling of absurdity and disbelief when seen in the light of the harsh reality of neo-liberal policies”), the accompanying video portrays the true working-class from a less photogenic part of the metropolis (“the people so often neglected in a city which is expanding beyond the reach of the everyday people”). You’ll understand that the five band members have their hearts in the right place, and feel at home in authenticity and roughness, which probably also underlies their post-punk sound. The three other songs here – Amour Amour, Marwan and Seduction, Destruction – are heavy, dark and dangerous, guaranteed to thrill a live audience.

Rotterdam is out now on vinyl 12″ through Subroutine Records.

Add to wantlist: Discogs || Subroutine

New album: Various Artists || Tracknaphobia Vol. 2 (Tarantula Tapes)

We don’t often write about compilations, but they (still!) are a great resource to discover new music. Compilations are of course also a great way to put the spotlight and celebrate a certain label and scene. Both of these strengths apply to the new Tarantula Tapes comp Tracknaphobia Vol. 2. In the liner notes, Tarantula Tapes give a third reason why comps can be great: it’s a way to build a community and a scene. Tracknaphobia Vol. 2. serves as the label’s thank you to everyone involved in keeping the underground music community alive – from musicians, labels and techicians to designers, podcasts and writers. The sense of gratitude applies not just to the past, but has its eye on the here and now, and the future: The 16 band, 16 song comp sounds curated by someone who is on top of the diversity and quality of the current punk rock and indie scene. If this was a weekly radio show, I’d sure be tuning in again and again.

Tracknaphobia Vol. 2 is out now, on Tape of course.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Why Dogs Why || Better Dog In Show

I first stumbled on LA outfit Why Dogs Why when they released a cover compilation last Summer. That compilation is informative of where the band finds its inspiration: pop punk (Green Day, My Chemical Romance, and Blink 182), altpop/indie rock (Violent Femmes, Grandaddy) and power pop (The Cars, Rooney). Their new record Better Dog In Show features nine songs that would not have looked out of place in the ’00s indie rock universe. Why Dogs Why particular remind me of bands from that era with a playful approach. Bands like The Spinto Band, Pete and The Pirates, Bishop Allen and Someone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin, although admittedly Why Dogs Why has a bit more oomph than the average song of said bands.

It’s not just the music that makes Better Dog In Show such a likeable record. The lyrics are worth checking out as well. My favorite is the post-apocalyptic sad banger Reflections In Mud (“And now i’ve got some things that belong to someone else, but they’re dead. I guess i’d say i’m coping but i’m also far from content. And now i’ve got a place to live by myself, but everyone’s dead. I guess i’d say i’m coping but i’m also far from content.”). Better Dog In Show is out now.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

Dusted || The 10 Best Cover Songs Of October 2022

Not all new music is really new, as many artists cover songs. Sometimes these are songs by their favorite artists, eg as a tribute to such a musical hero for a special reason, or they simply feel that a song deserves to be dusted and polished to reacquaint fans with great songs from the past. Other times, bands cover songs as a parody. Regardless of intent, some of those cover versions are so good or so much fun, we’d like to put a spotlight on them. Chosen from a wide range, here are – in random order – ten of our favorite covers from last month – links to the pages where you can add them to your wantlist included.

Honk If You’re Lonely || Cover: Say Sue Me || Original: Silver Jews
South Korean indie rock band Say Sue Me celebrate their 10th anniversary with an EP simply called 10 (out digitally and on cassette through Damnably). For this they recorded creditable new versions of their own songs Bad Habit and Old Town, as well as covers of songs by Yo La Tengo, Pavement, Daniel Johnston, Silver Jews, Grandaddy and Guided By Voices. No weak moments here, but as we can’t honor David Berman enough, we chose this one.

New EP: The Wends || It’s Here Where You Fall

Remember Smile from Turin (Italy)? The four-piece have shed their feathers as Smile and are now called The Wends. Their debut EP is a win win win for all parties involved. They are much easier to find on the good old internet search engine and they are less likely to be confused among the plethora of bands called Smile. But most importantly, they have kept the good parts of their sound, ran an update and sound like a new and improved version of Smile. It is still tempting to describe The Wends as Bob Mould fronting a jangle power pop band, but relative to their Smile era they take a more adventurous approach and do so with more urgency and nervous energy. Not sure whether the dudes in The Wends work in advertising, but they sure do some solid rebranding.

If you like jangle pop, classic indie rock, underground pop, powerpop and sunshine pop, there is a good chance The Wends have just the right song for you to fall in love with. It’s Here Where You Fall is out now on CD through Subjangle and We Were Never Being Boring.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp ||

New album: Dazy || OUTOFBODY

Does James Goodson ever sleep? The music publicist/podcast host/musician seems to live in a parallel universe where time constraints do not exist. His output as Dazy is particularly impressive. It’s one thing to write and record so many songs in what essentially is an one-man operation (“Big room hooks with bedroom production” is Goodson’s ethos), it’s a whole other beast when you regard the consistent high quality of the output. OUTOFBODY, Dazy’s latest, is no exception.

One thing that makes the music of Dazy so irressistible is its familiarity. OUTOFBODY sounds like Goodson made us all a mixtape of everything he liked about ’90s music. There is britrock/britpop, there is ’90s alt pop and college rock, there is jangle. Mix in the early ’90s takeover by Nirvana and Green Day, and you get a record that is concise yet full of hooks, full of energy and full of heart. S.W. Lauden sums up OUTOFBODY best in his interview with Goodson at The Big Takeover: “Imagine Sugar era Bob Mould teaming up with Beck circa Mellow Gold to record a late-‘90s Britpop album. Or The Jesus & Mary Chain time-traveling from the mid-‘80s to a bedroom recording session in 2022 to make a pop punk album of British Invasion covers.”

The LP version of OUTOFBODY is out now on Lame-O Records, Tape on Convulse Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Lame-O Records

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