Indie Rock

New album: TAPE TOY || Honey, WTF

When I saw the cover art, for a moment I thought that Nobunny was back at the front, but this release has nothing to do with American garage rocker Justin Champlin, recognizable by his bunny mask. No, this is the Dutch “bubble grunge” band TAPE TOY, and Honey, WTF is their highly anticipated debut album. In recent years we have already heard several entertaining singles from the Amsterdam four-piece, with Dive Deeper (2019) as their biggest hit, but now there is finally a first full-length – created from a broken heart and a grieving process, and musically rooted in 90’s indie rock with quiet/loud dynamics. It may be less exuberant than their previous work, but the more mature, serious and personal character of the 12 new songs has resulted in a well-balanced record that gets better and better after a few spins.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Flaming Top Hat || Photographs And Water

The first days of the new year I enjoyed myself with Photographs And Water, Flaming Top Hat’s debut album that came out on the penultimate day of last year. The 9 electronic indie rock songs here – more than 46 minutes in total – are raw, honest and intriguing. Flaming Top Hat is a solo project by Ellie Blake. Especially for a solo effort, the tracks are surprisingly diverse and rich, with quiet/loud dynamics, complex structures and long, personal lyrics. I asked Ellie how her music came about: “A lot of the songs come from the general stress of relocating yourself and not really knowing who you are and what to define yourself by, influenced by a big move I did across the summer from West Virginia where I lived for 6 years and had a semi-solid grasp on life, to Oregon, where I don’t know anyone and I’ve gotta sort myself out and figure out like what I need to do and meet new people and all that because there’s no status quo to rely on. This arguably most comes through on my personal favorites, The Bathroom Floor Song, a ten-minute-long possibly narrative song that’s vaguely about my life from September, when I arrived in Oregon, to late December when I finished the album. Most of the other songs serve as just little snapshots of emotion influenced by little moments in my life and the music I’ve been listening to, such as interpolation of The Beach Boys’ song I’m Waiting for the Day at the end of Rigor Mortis (Summer).” For me, Talk About Your Day stands out: it’s just as melancholic and slightly gloomy as the rest, but most relatable, and ending with some good vibrations.

Photographs And Water is out now digitally. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: New Oblivion || Demo

I seldom get excited about dark and moody postpunk, but here’s a new band from Boston that is the exception to the rule. New Oblivion just dropped a four-song Demo on Tape. The songs of New Oblivion are decidedly lo-fi, drenched in noise and reverb, and filled with passionate and heartfelt vocals.

While it may be the kind of music that is easy to dismiss while doing a quick scan, New Oblivion are the kind of band to quickly win you over once you let the songs play out and pay just a little more attention. Yes, this is the kind of postpunk I can get behind, and New Oblivion are a band-to-watch.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: The Drolls || That Puget Sound

Snappy Little Numbers wastes no time in setting 2022 off on the right foot. The label’s first release of the new year will sound instantly familiar to fans of ’90s pop punkband Sicko. No surprise, since The Drolls are made of two parts Sicko, and one part ’90s altrock band Chinchilla. What is surprising though, is how fresh the pop punk of The Drolls sounds on That Puget Sound. It has the accomplished songwriting of a veteran band combined with the bouncy energy of a gang of newcomers.

After listening to That Puget Sound for the first time, I revisited my Sicko CDs just to check for similarities.  That in itself was a blast. It still baffles me why Sicko was overlooked by so many. Perhaps Sicko was a band ahead of its time? I think the band would have fit really well in the current wave of indie punk with bands like Radiator Hospital.

Enter The Drolls, who share enough of the DNA of Sicko to draw in fans of that band – the record even includes a reworked version of the Sicko song Rehashed. But the band adds sufficient layers and melody to enthuse the modern indie punks. Ultimately, on That Puget Sound, The Drolls sound like a mix of Sicko (but at a slightly slower pace and with more mature lyrics), The Lemonheads (but faster), Superchunk and Tenement. That’s one tasty blend!

In sum: The Drolls provide us with cool tunes, great artwork, and a perfect start to 2022!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Snappy Little Numbers

New album: Егор Попс (Egor Pop) || Пока все дома (While Everyone Is At Home)

The 200th release by St. Petersburg (Russia) label Raw Pop Syndicate is by Егор Попс (Egor Pop). On Пока все дома (While Everyone Is At Home), Егор Попс plays punchy indie rock with a touch of midwestern emo. The nine songs on Пока все дома essentially are the setlist of Егор Попс’s live shows, and the unpolished production further add to the live feel of the record.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

Music Year-End List || Niek’s Favorite Singles and EP’s of 2021

Our last 2021 wrap-up list showcases my favorite singles and EPs of 2021. ICYMI, Dennis posted his short format favs last week. Previously, we posted our Album top 50s here and here.

For me, 2021 had an abundance of great music to offer, and I believe this applies to singles and EPs as well. To avoid decision anxiety, I’ve listed them alphabetically. I’ve excluded some killer EPs and singles because (some of the) songs would later appear on the artists’  full lengths.

Enjoy reading and listening. See you all next year! If you’re looking for a convenient playlist of most (43 of 50) of the songs, check here. [post continues below]

Alvilda || Négatif 
Alvilda, a jangly powerpop sensation from Paris, mix ’60s girl group with ’70s Good Vibrations pop punk influences and je t’aime it a lot.

Dusted || The 10 Best Cover Songs Of December 2021

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.

We’ve already posted reviews of G​.​T​.​R​.​R​.​C.‘s compilation and Kepi Ghoulie & Vic Ruggiero‘s cover-rich album this month, I had to disregard Squid‘s Cover Versions EP because it is exclusive to Rough Trade shops, and I found out that I had overlooked a new, pretty good cover album by Deep Purple (Turning To Crime) last month, but these are ten other releases worth your attention.

Kiss Me Deadly || Cover: Chuck Prophet featuring Make Out Quartet || Original: Lita Ford
The most successful cover songs are often genre-transcending, with the covering artist differing considerably from the covered artist. That’s definitely the case here, where Chuck Prophet transforms Lita Ford’s 80s hard rock hit into a folk ballad with harmony vocals, acoustic guitar, violin and bells (not only the music but also the lyrics are more well-behaved now). It’s the closing song of four-track EP The Land That Time Forgot Revisited, out digitally through Yep Roc Records – Prophet re-recorded three songs of his most recent album, and this cover, live with a string quartet, on a linoleum floor on a rainy Tuesday afternoon in an empty barroom in San Francisco’s Mission District.

Music Year-End List || Dennis’ Favorite Singles and EP’s of 2021

You’ve already seen our lists with favorite albums – here‘s Niek’s list and there‘s mine – but also many shorter format releases were wantlist worthy. Below you can listen to an overview of the Top 50 singles and EPs that I thought were the best from 2021. I’ve excluded releases with songs that also appear on my album list. Links point to Discogs or Bandcamp (the headings), and to previously posted reviews (in the body text) – add to your wantlist (or collection) what you like!

1. Noah C Lekas || Sounds From The Shadow Factory
[Beat Poetry, US || Blind Owl] To be honest I haven’t been able to give this one as much attention as I would have liked. Not only because I mainly spent my time on full-length albums, but also for practical reasons: only two songs are shared on Bandcamp, YouTube, Soundcloud and Spotify, and unfortunately a physical copy wasn’t available in Europe (and sold out quickly in the US). Still, I didn’t doubt for a moment whether this should be at the top, simply because this was the most impressive release of the past year in all respects. Poems and rock music form a great combination here: “It’s jazz for the mind // It’s blues for the soul.” It’s Art!

New EP: Liquid Mike || You Can Live Forever In Paradise On Earth

Michigan’s best kept secret Liquid Mike return with a surprise EP for, by the band’s own count, their “half dozen of fans.” That’s quite the miscount, but for what it’s worth, I identify as a Liquid Mike fan. Earlier this week, I included their Stuntman record among my 100 notable records of 2021.

The You Can Live Forever In Paradise On Earth EP continues where Stuntman dropped us off. Expect catchy and punchy powerpop/indie rock that is reminiscent of Midtown, Piebald and The Promise Ring. One of the highlights on the EP is 45, a track Liquid Mike frontman Michael Maple also released as a solo demo, and I like even better in the full band version.

If you haven’t already, it’s time to start listening to Liquid Mike, if only to be able to call yourself an early adopter once the band’s get picked up by a larger audience.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

Music Year-End List || Niek’s Favorite Albums of 2021

Okay, time to look back and reflect on the musical year that was 2021. Even though I’ve always spent most of my listening time on new music, I don’t think I’ve ever spent this much time browsing, scanning, and prowling for it as I did in 2021. I did not keep track of the exact numbers (Dennis is our stats guy as he showed in his Top 50 of 2021 post last week – make sure to check that one out if you haven’t already!), but trust me, it was a lot. The focus on new releases came at the cost of not spending as much time as I may have liked with some 2021 records which are decidedly great. The list below reflects the records I ultimately played and enjoyed the most.

Overall, I think 2021 was a really strong year for music, with many of the bands in my list releasing their best work yet. Like always, my list is heavy on punk, powerpop, garage and indie rock. But I’ve also included many indie and jangle pop records, a genre that had a particularly strong year. My number one album of 2021 in some way is an outlier, but I believe it is a modern classic.

Final thought: while working on this list, my mind frequently wandered to Jan Kooi who suddenly died this year. Jan was a record store (co)owner who had impeccable taste in anything music related and whose taste I, and I speak for Dennis as well, blindly trusted. I didn’t know Jan personally, but his curiosity and generosity in sharing new music was one of the main inspirations for starting Add To Wantlist. His top 31 records of the year list was consistently great and his legacy will not be forgotten. So long Jan, and thank you for the tunes.

Check out my Top 50 records (and 50 additional notable records!) below. Here is a convenient playlist with my favorite tracks of the 100 albums (98, because two records are not on Spotify).

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