Indie Rock

New album: Alex Kasznel & the Board of Directors || Everything’s Important & Nothing Matters

A month ago we were impressed by Landlocked, the first single of Alex Kasznel & the Board of Directors, now there appears to be more where that came from. With their full-length debut album Everything’s Important & Nothing Matters, songwriter-with-tie Alex Kasznel (guitar, vocals), Heather Sampanis (bass, vocals) and Brian Tull (drums) effortlessly capture your attention for eight tracks long. Above all thanks to the clever and personal lyrics (“It’s entirely possible // That my life is just a theater inside my skull // And the director dropped you in the second act // To keep it from getting dull // I don’t know // I hope there’s a sequel” – from Luciferase), which are recited by the frontman in a distinctive and charismatic voice. But these can only thrive thanks to the fertile pop-punk soil beneath. Don’t be put off by the corporate band name, these musicians are about doing the right thing (“If you can’t see that on my face, hope you can see it in my heart” – from 20 Years Ago Today).

Everything’s Important & Nothing Matters, produced/mixed/mastered by Eric Tuffendsam, is out now digitally and on CD through Air Quotes Records. Recommended if you like The Weakerthans, The Hold Steady, Ted Leo & The Pharmacists.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Frankie Traandruppel || Castling

Named after Suicide’s Frankie Teardrop, Frankie Traandruppel (Belgium) is a project by Lee Swinnen, who has a past in Tubelight, Ero Guro and Double Veterans. After several EPs, Frankie Traandruppel is finally making his LP debut with the 19-song Castling. The LP compiles four EPs: Who Is Me Is You, Octospider, Yadda Yadda and Nature Calls – The latter makes up the final four songs of Castling and is released more or less simultaneously with the LP. It includes one of my favorite Frankie Traandruppel songs yet with And I Did Love You.

Castling has much more gems like that to offer – listen below for some gateway songs. The music of Frankrie Traandruppel is probably best described as slacker indie rock where the guitar work is in constant battle between janglin’, riffin’ and rockin’. Meanwhile Swinnen’s vocals are closer to talking and reciting than singing. It’s pretty great!

Castling is out now on LP through Ronny Rex, Démarrage Records and Feles Music.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Feles

New album: Langkamer || The Noon And Midnight Manual

In an interview in the most recent issue of Mojo Magazine, Colin Blunstone talks about The Zombies’ first session in a professional studio, recording She’s Not There: “A conversation between Rod and me went along the lines of: If you are totally committed to your performance, it can’t be wrong.” Although in a different genre, I have the feeling that this was also the approach to the creation of The Noon And Midnight Manual, the sophomore full-length by Bristol (UK) four-piece Langkamer, released almost two years after their debut LP West Country. Anyway, it’s a good one.

It has been scientifically proven that smiling is contagious; the ten new songs here sound like the musicians have played them with big smiles, which also makes us listeners feel better. Using influences ranging from slacker rock ‘n’ roll and fuzzy garage rock to Vampire Weekend-like jaunty summer pop and melancholic alt-country, the band has found an attractive and varied own sound in which an eye for detail and clever lyrics go hand in hand with original melodies and uplifting harmony vocals. Highlights include singles Sing At Dawn and Hatchet, but also tracks like Sarah and Vanity Fair are very likeable.

The Noon And Midnight Manual, produced by Tim Rowing-Parker, is out now digitally, and on cassette, CD and vinyl LP, through Breakfast Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Breakfast

New single: The Drolls || Novelty Rock Monthly Singles Club, Vol. One

The Drolls (two parts ’90s pop punk band Sicko, one part ’90s altrock band Chinchilla) released an excellent debut LP last year. This year, The Drolls came up with the awesome idea of paying tribute to their favorite artists via a monthly singles club. Rather than covering originals, The Drolls opted to write songs in the styles of those bands. Based on the song titles (Kick Out The Jammies and I am A Data Scientist), it’s an easy guess who the first two bands are The Drolls pay homage to. The guess becomes even easier once you start to listen to these songs. “Kick Out The Jammies, Motherfuckers!” What a joy to hear The Drolls go MC5 and Guided By Voices.

The first installment of the Novelty Rock Monthly Singles Club is out now through Snappy Little Numbers – First 50 copies include a custom 7″ vinyl adapter. Volume 1 makes me curious what the direction will be for Volume 2. Fingers crossed The Drolls can keep this up for a long time. Given the following disclaimer, they don’t want to raise false expectations. “Band energy, creative output and vinyl supply chain issues may impact the ability to release a single every month, or even ever again.”

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Snappy Little Numbers

New album: Kicking Bird || Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Kicking Bird is an alternative rock band from Wilmington, North Carolina (US), Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is their full-length debut album without a movie attached (no, we’re not going to talk about Dances with Wolves). Tom Michels (bass, guitar, vocals), Shaun Paul (guitar, bass, vocals), Shaylah Paul (keyboards, vocals), Robin Cooksley (guitar) and Greg Blair (drums) claim to have stolen chords and melodies from some of our favorite early 2000s’ indie names, who of course had also been inspired by their predecessors themselves (telling lyrics in closing track Rip Off: “He said: it sounds like Townes // I said: everything’s a rip off”), yet everything here sounds quite fresh and original in 2023. You’ll hear eleven guitar-driven rock tracks with influences from punk, Americana, 60s girl groups and power pop – energetic music with relatable stories, infectious hooks, woo-hoo’s and hand claps, and awesome harmony vocals. This just might be one of those records that future artists will be stealing from in 20 years.

Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is out now digitally and on vinyl LP through Fort Lowell Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Fort Lowell

New album: Single Mothers || Roy

Although Single Mothers (better found online as SM Worldwide, if you want to avoid ads for dating sites) broke up in 2009 according to their bio, they are releasing another full-length six months after their previous album, Everything You Need. Drew Thomson’s London, Ontario-based indie punk band wasn’t supposed to be a band, but that doesn’t stop them from recording great songs and delivering impressive live shows. The cover art of their Roy LP nicely depicts that they have (and had) different faces in every way – band members, topics, genres and sounds may vary. On the ten new songs, the punk roots have shifted to the background in exchange for dynamic indie rock (post-hardcore? post-punk? post-rock?), and that suits them well. The clever (more personal) lyrics and fiery (distinctive) vocals are again quite amazing, the music is energetic and at times incredibly catchy. Standout track Sad Dumb Game (watch a live version below) is an earworm that should be a big hit, but there are many more reasons to add this record to your wantlist.

Roy is out now digitally and on vinyl LP through Dine Alone Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Dine Alone || Discogs

New album: Lone Wolf || Haze Wave

Lone Wolf, Lone Wolf. What are we going to do today?

I’d suggest playing Haze Wave, which is album #3 by Rotterdam’s most contagious indiepunk band. Lone Wolf has a distinct sound that is build on the synchronized singing of bass player Ox Accelerator and guitarist Merel Schaap, the cool and collected guitar playing of Damien Buquet and the relentlessly reliable drumming of Ivo Backbreaker. Together, these four musicians operate as a tight unit where the sum exceeds its parts.

If you’ve heard Lone Wolf before, Haze Wave will sound familiar. Like their previous work, the new LP is full of high energy modern indie punk anthems. There is no stagnation with the band though, they are still finding ways to improve their songwriting and sharpen their hooks. Listen to Ready To Break (or watch the video below) for example, a song that gets better with each passing second. Haze Wave showcases Lone Wolf in their best version yet, and it’s a joy to witness. Lone Wolf will make you tremble, they will offer you quite the experience. Between this release and the Dutch National Championship of Feyenoord, what a week for Rotterdam! ❤️🤍🖤

Haze Wave is out now through Stardumb Records. You can also find it at Brassneck (UK), The Machine Shop (US), Endless Detention (Australia), and Striped Music (Italy).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Stardumb Records || Discogs

New album: Iguana Death Cult || Echo Palace

On their new full-length album Echo Palace, Rotterdam-based five-piece Iguana Death Cult convincingly continues the development that we heard on their 2022 Future Monuments 7″ – the psychedelic garage rock of yesteryear has faded into the background, in favor of post-punk with a groovy funk feel. The new album may have originated from the surreal life during the pandemic, but the fascinating music en sharp lyrics fit very well in the zeitgeist in which we ended up afterwards. Jeroen Reek (vocals), Tobias Opschoor (guitar, vocals), Justin Boer (bass), Jimmy de Kok (keys) and Arjen van Opstal (drums) recorded eleven electrifying songs that pleasantly cause Sensory Overload (the title of one of the standout tracks) – saxophonist Benjamin Herman was brought in to add some extra craziness. From staccato guitar riffs to an ultra-tight rhythm section and wistful keyboard melodies, from vocals that sometimes sound like the record player speed is a bit too slow to gang vocals that will do even better in live shows, there’s so much going on that our exploration isn’t done yet.

Echo Palace, self-produced, is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Innovative Leisure.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs || Innovative Leisure

New single: SPELLS || What The Hell Is Caution + Some Would Say

The new 7″ flexisingle by SPELLS (Denver, Colorado) is called What The Hell Is Caution. A question mark is missing, so I assume it’s either a statement of intent or a rhetorical question. Or…a lifestyle perhaps?

I do not have the answer, but SPELLS sure are rockin’ out on both of the songs on the single. I particularly love the gang vocals on these energetic party platters. Clearly, SPELLS has a lot of fun creating songs and playing with each other, and that positive energy shines through. Both songs are new and pulled from sessions for their soon to be released 3rd full length. By this early sample, that one could turn out to be something special!

7″ flexisingle available through Snappy Little Numbers.
Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Sumos || Surfacing

For a band called Sumos, Andrew Kilroy, Joel Sloan, Kyle Tarbuck and Siobhan Tarbuck look surprisingly fit. The Manchester band sounds good as well on their debut LP Surfacing. The record is out today on Meritorio and Safe Suburban Home Records after making some serious waves in the indie scene with their 2020 debut EP. Many of our respected fellow bloggers have been lauding the early singles of Surfacing, and to be honest, my hands have been itching to write about the band as well. We have a strict full release only policy on Add To Wantlist though. After all, our website is all about sharing music you can actually add to your wantlist, or better yet: purchase. Admittedly, we also apply the policy for our own health and safety given the onslaught of new tracks that musicians drop each hour of the day. But I’m drifting off, it’s finally time to explain why Sumos is near the top of my wantlist!

Reason 1: it has one of my favorite songs of 2023 in Small Talk, an energetic jangle pop hit. It’s no surprise the song stays just shy of the 3 minute mark, because it is a near perfect pop song.
Reason 2: Sumos are more punchy and pacey than your average indie pop band. I wouldn’t call them powerpop per se (the jangly brit pop label a more likely fit I guess), but the band has a pleasant edge that makes them stand out.
Reason 3: Sumos like to mix things up. The best example is Mostly Harmless, an outsider finger picking folky song that offers a breather in the middle part of Surfacing. The Other One is another outsider. It is the loudest and longest track and has a chorus that sends Neutral Milk Hotel vibes.
Reason 4: Sweet melodies in abundance!

I could go on, but I rather have the music convince you. Press play below and become a Sumos fan as well!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Meritorio

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