Indie Rock

Gimme 5! || Simon Jackson Shares “Five” Songs That Reflect The Eclectic Sound Of Hogchoker

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.

I am not really open to electronic dance music and some extreme niches, but otherwise I try to listen to many different music styles. However, when I came across Hogchoker, my head almost exploded: the band from Shanghai plays original, theatrical, punky world music with a message of social justice and inclusivity, spiced by anarchic humor and big brass jazz, funk, salsa, klezmer and ska riffs, with guest musicians like Argentinian opera singer Ernesto ‘Ruso’ Bauer en reggae legends Max Romeo and Big Youth. That intrigued me to the extent that I was very curious about their sources of inspiration. Simon Jackson, singer, songwriter and sax player of Hogchoker, is kind enough to explain this to us in detail. A lot to discover – very interesting, very cool!

Simon Jackson (Hogchoker):
‘Having spent over a year recording what I hope is the most eclectic and entertaining set of songs you’ll hear this year, playing with artists from Argentina, Brazil, China, France, Ireland, Jamaica, the UK and US, I’ve tried to put together a list of the songs that reflect the mix of genres, nationalities and influences on the album. I’m Simon, singer, songwriter and saxophonist for Hogchoker. The album is Roll Up for the Crazy Sound of Hogchoker, our 8th so far (with nearly as many line ups).

New album: Jacob The Horse || College Party Mixtape, Vol. 1

“Sounds like: a punkrock version of The Decemberists.” That truly is a spot-on description on the Spotify page of Jacob The Horse, whose new record College Party Mixtape. Vol. 1 is out now.Like Larry David would say, it’s pretty, pretty, pretty good. It is like Colin Meloy has joined Jeff Rosenstock and Piebald to relive their college days. The result is perfect road trip music: it has soft-loud dynamics, anthemic choruses and essay length lyrics drenched in melancholy. All these elements are on full display in the excellent album opener Stealing From Friends Have Never Been So Easy. If you like that one,  you can safely add this one to the wantlist. Out now on blue vinyl.

Every song’s a copy of a copy of a feeling I had once || Maybe we should just give up on metaphor || Thinking that the modern day’s unworthy of Future introspection or dramatic verbs || Singing about the internet and mobile phones || How our lives are just performances in binary code

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: Ex Press || Itchy To Move

Drop everything you are doing. Here’s an EP from a new band that absolutely deserves your attention. Don’t worry about your work, you will catch up later, and you will do so fully energized.

Ex Press are Devon Milley & Matthew Fudge, who provide even more evidence that the finest powerpop nowadays comes from Canada. Okay, technically I am not sure whether this counts as powerpop. Ex Press have created their own hybrid of synthpunk, powerpop, new wave and pop punk. On Itchy To Move, Miller & Fudge (not a bad name for a band or a bookstore now that I think of it) are assisted by a strong supporting cast. Most notably, Glassjaw frontman Daryl Palumbo provided keys on the majority of songs and helped recording, mastering and mixing the EP. Palumbo also sings on the lead single Headrest. That single also offers interesting use of horns provided by The Key Group Horns. Watch the video produced by Daniel Fried (TV’s Daniel, Bad Sports, Radioactivity) below. From the high octane opener Mystery to the midpaced moody album closer Act Surprised, it’s hard to really highlight one of the songs. There are no fillers here. Fingers crossed that a physical release is in the works.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Wurld Series || What’s Growing

What’s Growing is the second LP of New-Zealand indie rock band Wurld Series. I quite liked the band’s previous work, but not enough to make the wantlist. Five songs in, I am already searching for the best place to order this new record from. The instrumental intro song Harvester builds up to what is the first standout track on the record: Nap Gate, a classic ’90s indie rock track with fuzzy guitars (video below). It’s followed by Supplication, a short and sweet song with beautiful interplay between an acoustic guitar and a stylophone. We then get Moved In, which may be the most pop-oriented song on the record. It essentially is 96 seconds of catchiness. In the middle of the record the band slows down the pace and opts for some experimentation. Given the accessibility of the first part of the record, some may be put off by these out-of-the-box songs. The interlude kind of works for me though. It nicely slides into the latter part of the record which mirrors the first 5 songs in terms of variety and strength. The songwriting skills of Wurld Series shine particularly bright on Grey Men. The song is short and straightforward, but hook filled and it has excellent guitar work – a recurrent theme in the songs of Wurld Series.

Overall, What’s Growing is a very effective and efficient record. It’s only 30 minutes long, but offers A LOT, with none of the songs overstaying their welcome. It’s a strong collection of songs that should appeal to fans of classic indie rock (Pavement, Neutral Milk Hotel and Guided By Voices, or more recently: Kiwi jr). Out now on Melted Ice Cream (New Zealand & Rest of the World), Meritorio Records (Europe & USA), & Osborne Again (Australia). By the way, lead guitarist Adam Hattaway will release another record next week, keep an eye out for that one.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Meritorio Records

New single: Career Boy || Scam Jam

What’s Next? was the title of the first song by Career Boy. Then it remained silent for 9 months, but now there is an answer to that question: next is second single Scam Jam. Think of it as a “job rock” alternative to Nada Surf’s Popular. It’s a great energetic track with entertaining tips and tracks to be successful as an artist. The music sounds a lot more exciting than this description though, so give it a listen.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

Throwback Thursday: Palms || LOVE

To my surprise, I just found out that Australian indie rock band Palms have released a new single entitled Calling. Not bad at all, and cool that they still make music! It reminded me of LOVE, their great track from 2012, which can also be found on the album Step Brothers (2013). The song is backed by a fun video by Angela Bermuda, inspired by Hanna-Barbera cartoons and featuring heaps of A-list celeb cameos. One not to forget.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New single: JAGGUAR || Guessing in a Row

“Thought I was on a roll // But it was just a couple good guesses in a row // Thought I hit my stride // But it was just a couple good days, a few good nights // Thought I was gettin’ on track // But now it seems a little bit better lookin’ back // Oh, oh.” – Lyrics that I would have liked to write myself. However, these are the words Christian Fenn, Tyler Fenn, Dimitri Treheles, and Keith Trivers composed for their band JAGGUAR’s most recent (digital) single Guessing in a Row. It’s one to add to one of your uplifting playlists. I also like the lyrics with which the song ends: “Da-da-da, da-da, da-da-da, da, da-da-da.” 🙂

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: The Scratch-Offs || The Scratch-Offs

What do you do when you’ve just formed a band and are excited about the songs you’ve been writing, but a pandemic leaves no room to perform? The Scratch-Offs, a garage-country-r’n’r-hybrid from Madison (Wisconsin), decided to use their free time to record their self-titled debut. The Scratch-Offs may be a new band, but they hardly lack experience: the band consists of past and current members of Wood Chickens, Jane Rose and the Deadend Boys, Westernwhere, Psychic Drag and the Smells. That experience pays off in the opening track WIS-60. The band cites the Stones and CCR as their influences and this song could be the lovechild of those two classic bands. It may be my favorite song on the record. The second track (Shit Attitude) offers some pleasant old tyme rock, with an infectious chorus. It’s followed up by the fun Chuck Berry indebted Down On A Thing. The rest of the album has plenty to offer as well. Justin Perkins mastered the record – does that guy ever sleep? But still, there’s that naggin’ feeling. I can’t help but feel how this particular brand of music is best experienced live in sweaty bars. Let’s hope we will be able to see this band perform rather sooner than later. The record is out digitally today, with LPs scheduled at the pressing plant, and CDs and cassettes in the works (pre-orders coming soon).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Max And The Martians || All The Same

Contrary to what most of my posts suggest, I DO occasionally enjoy music that is a little more subtle, quiet or introspective. Take this new record by Max And The Martians. First impression: ‘this is not bad at all, and somewhat sounds like a mix of Purple Mountains and Sonny And The Sunsets. This deserves another listen.’ Second take: It’s saturday morning, I am reading the paper, drinking coffee. And this record just clicks – another illustration of how contexdependent our experience of music is. This record has an old time mellow feel to it, like it is a long lost classic pop record. The music and voice of Max Bien-Kahn (the mastermind behind this band) oozes sadness and melancholy, but the music is not depressive. It is a contrast that made the Purple Mountains LP so devastating, and applies here as well. Listen to the upbeat Milky Way (video below) for example – “Gonna Lose My Mind // Before It Runs Away.” Remember listening to music with the lyric sheet on your lap? This is the kind of record that warrants a return to that habit. With All The Same you get great music, great lyrics. Oh, and great videos as well. On the Wantlist already!

That leaves us with one question:  Who are these Martians? It’s a an all star cast of rotating backing musicians. If you want to deep dive into their musical backgrounds, they are Esther Rose (who has a new record I am excited about coming out soon), Ross Farbe and Ray Micarelli (Video Age), Jordan Odom (Gold Star), Shaye Cohn (Tuba Skinny), Duff Thompson, Camille Weatherford (The Lostines), and Steph Green (Carver Baronda).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New single: The Mitchums || Lester Bangs

Lester Bangs (1948-1982) was an influential American music journalist / critic / author / musician. Maria Bustillos of The New Yorker described him as ‘truth-teller’ but also as ‘a wreck of a man, (…) fat, sweaty, unkempt — an out-of-control alcoholic in torn jeans and a too-small black leather jacket.’ In short, someone about whom many stories are still circulating (read Jim DeRogatis’s biography Let It Blurt if you want to know more). Several songs had already been made about him and today this promising (digital) single / video is added, of The Mitchums’ new album Wet Log due out this spring. The track – with a trombone in addition to the usual guitars and drums! – pays tribute to the memory of ‘the most famous rock critic of all time’, the lyrics are an excerpt from Bangs’s book Psychotic reaction & Carburator dung. The music is available via Espora Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp 

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