Indie Rock

New album: Waltzer || Time Traveler

Waltzer is a project helmed by multi-hyphenate songwriter Sophie Sputnik. With such a great name, you don’t actually need a stage name, but that didn’t feel right. Waltzer may be a moniker, but it contains ever-evolving multitudes. It’s also a character, a persona, a songwriting collaboration unit, a one-woman project, a sketch-comedy routine, even a TV show. Let’s focus on the music here: Time Traveler is Waltzer’s debut full-length album, the end result of years of work (the song Destroyer is 10 years old). The LP takes some time to win you over, but is varied and engaging enough to give it a shot. Out now via Side Hustle Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: Vera Bloom || Vera Bloom

“Tonight’s a good night for making bad decisions,” Vera Bloom sings on the standout track of her self-titled EP, before adding some well-timed “uh huh’s.” Both lyrically and musically, the track feels like a straight-up tribute to the glampunkrock of the Donnas. The rest of the EP sounds completely different. On her EP, Vera Bloom goes from powerballads (Breathe, Love Like Knives), to ’90’s alternative rock (Sharp Shooter), and indie rock (Blue, my 2nd favorite track on the EP). I guess this mix of styles won’t be for everyone, but I am adding Vera Bloom to my artists to watch.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Cereal Milk || Cereal Milk

From the moment I got into punkrock and hardcore back in the mid-nineties, I don’t think I ever fully grasped the concept of emo. To my ears, most of the music I was listening to oozed emotion. Whether it was anger, angst, hate, love, melancholy, hope(lessness) or feeling left out, I always felt that the best punk and hardcore bands have that emotional edge: they feel real, and whatever emotions they convey, they feel authentic, making them stand out from most mainstream music. As such, I struggle considering emo to be a distinct genre, but rather an almost necessary element of great punk and hardcore music. Perhaps this explains why I’ve taken an immediate liking to the self-titled record of Cereal Milk. Here is a band that literally is leaving it all out there: Cereal Milk no longer is a band and this posthumous record will be their final release. Some of its songs have been previously released, for example on the 2017 Amazing Singer Record comp by Emotional Response. Cereal Milk is an intense though melodic record, with a singer absolutely singing his heart out. It’s a dynamic record, with plenty of palm muting, cool guitar riffs, and well timed tempo and soft-loud variations. Shoutout to Californian label Phat ‘n’ Phunky for putting this out.

then, as they dropped the gates // and the bets were placed // your’s was against me // like some insider trade // you were privy to my fate // i’m the horse with the broken leg


Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: Camp Trash || Downtiming

Now this is a compelling debut EP. The American indie rock band Camp Trash has released a 7″ with four songs rooted in the 90s / 2000s that you really should listen to. Strong songs with appealing lyrics, performed by a singer with a great voice and a band that knows how to play driving rhythms. Out now through Count Your Lucky Stars. Reportedly Bryan, Keegan, Alex, and Levi are busy in the studio recording their first full-length album, which should be out later this year.

‘I play songs the songs I wrote with Keegan // peeling off the labels on medicine // pretending it’s nothing don’t worry about me // I just need someone to worry without me asking’

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || CYLS

New album: Teddy’s Hit || Painters

I regularly miss Mozes and the Firstborn, the Dutch rock band that stopped (temporarily?) In 2019. Fortunately their music lives on, but I would have liked to hear a lot more from them. Today I discovered a great alternative: I listened to Painters, the debut full length by Teddy’s Hit (also from the Netherlands), and that reminded me at times of the work of Mozes and the Firstborn. For example, listen to Liquid Juice (check out the entertaining video below; an ode to the first time), and you’ll know what I mean. I could also name Parquet Courts, Vampire Weekend, or a combination of slacker rock and 90’s indie as influences, but these comparisons don’t really do the indie rockers justice. Their songs are very strong, melodic, energetic and catchy, performed with nonchalanche and humor. The LP is out now through I Love My Label. I can enjoy myself with this for a while.

Stream: Spotify. Add to wantlist: Discogs || Excelsior Recordings || I Love My Label

New album: Kiwi Jr. || Cooler Returns

I’ve been looking forward to this day: January 22nd, arguably the first great release day of 2021. Plenty to write about this week. First up: Cooler Returns, the new Kiwi Jr record. The band already leaked a couple of great songs last year, which is kind of standard practice nowadays to hype upcoming releases. A practice that often results in disappointment once the album arrives. Not in this case, far from it. From album opener Tyler, it’s clear that Kiwi Jr. have not been messing around in 2020. Kiwi Jr. still play the jangly indie rock of their debut we all fell in love with, but on Cooler Returns they upped their game in almost every way. The subtle addition of a saloon piano, organ and harmonica creates a fuller and more mature sound. And with mature, I don’t mean “well they developed their songwriting skills but now sound kinda boring.” This record is fun as hell, and the songwriting is great. Trust me, you can skip adding it to your wantlist, just buy it ASAP. Kiwi Jr. sets the bar high for other bands that are planning to release a new record this year. By the way, kudos to the band for picking the perfect title for a sophomore album that exceeds its predecessor without losing any of the appeal of their debut.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New single: Don’t Worry || As If By Magic

Indie rock band Don’t Worry from Essex (UK) released the new digital single As If By Magic, out now through Specialist Subject Records. Reportedly it’s “about feeling dissatisfied in the present moment and how we often try to remedy this by looking backwards. Social media can often exacerbate these feelings. The song is a reminder not to swim too long in the warmth of nostalgia and to recognize the value in all experiences.” In terms of music and vocals, this song is much lighter than their previous album Who Cares Anyway? (2018), it could be a radio hit. Do I hear handclaps there?

‘Dive into the rat race // Chop of the top of my head // Find whatever meaning in that which presents itself // I’ll find the time to look inside’

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp 

New compilation: Various Artists || Fakes

I’ve always had a weak spot for cover compilations, particularly when the originals are classics and the recreations sound faster, angrier of weirder. So thank you, Drunk Dial Records for asking some of today’s best punk and garage acts to cover their favorite song of fictional artists from movies and tv shows. The result is a highly entertaining compilation. What about Pavid Vermin covering The Beets from ’90’s cartoon Doug? Or Jiffy Marx & kcar doing a delightfully weird version of Sugar Sugar? Or Berwanger doing Welcome to the Dollhouse? What about Careful making this Mitch & Mickey song actually sound good? And bless Charlie Continental for changing Wet Wet Wet’s Love is all Around into Covid’s All Around (“there was a start, there will be an end”). Though I hope this will ultimately get a physical release, it’s currently digital only. There are worse ways to spend $5. And if you need any further encouragement, all proceeds will be divided between the bands and four charities.


Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Subsonic Eye || Nature Of Things

Straight from Singapore comes a new Subsonic Eye record. Nature Of Things is their third full-length, but I don’t recall listening to their previous work. The new one has my full attention though. It’s a diverse record. The kind that draws you in upon first listen, but leaves plenty to discover. The guitar work and vocals are particularly strong in the sound of the band, which balances between indie rock and indiepop – Snail Mail comes to mind in several songs. Standout tracks are Fruitcake, Further, Spiral and Unearth (video below).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Fastcut Records

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