Indie Rock

New album: Colt Wave || You Already Know

Remember Knapsack? Knapsack founding member and drummer Colby Mancasola currently plays in Colt Wave, a long distance project with Ken Lovgren. Both are long time friends and played together in Downtime before Mancasola formed Knapsack. In Colt Wave, Lovgren writes the songs and takes on most of the instruments, with Manascola responsible for the drums.

I totally overlooked Colt Wave’s 2021 debut Radiotelegraphy, but I plan on revisiting their new record You Already Know frequently this year. It’s full of short and understated jangly indie rock songs that are easy on the ears and calming to the nerves. The record gently flows from song to song, and it’s easy to miss where one song ends and the other begins. Only two of the 15 tracks on You Already Know surpass the 2-minute mark, and just barely. Most songs have no clear verses or choruses, but I believe that lack of clear structure actually benefits the record. The excellent guitar work and strong melodies of Lovgren will hold your attention even in the absence of massive choruses. Before you know it, you have escaped reality for 24 minutes.

To my ears, Colt Wave sounds like a concoction of Ultimate Painting, Connections and The Stevens, if that makes sense. Colt Wave has that same talent for writing songs that sound spontaneous, effortfless and flawless. Give Colt Wave a try: You Already Know is a special kind of record.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: The Sparks || Heartbreak Songs

While browsing the Bandcamp universe I stumbled upon The Sparks: a power pop/jangle/rock’n’roll band from Minneapolis influenced by Springsteen, Lowe, Earle and Big Star. I found myself still listening to the band’s new EP (Heartbreak Songs) an hour later. The Sparks are too catchy to ignore and too good to overlook.

The song that drew me in? Runnin’! It’s one of those songs that you know you are going to dig 10 seconds in, only to discover it’s even better than expected. And the remaining 5 songs on the EP show that those cool harmonies and strong choruses are no coincidence. These guys can write songs! Have a taste of Slow Burn with its amazing hooks, or the jangly powerpop hit You, Me and the Highway.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Amoeba Teen || Amoeba Teen

It doesn’t happen that much anymore in these harsh times, but UK four-piece Amoeba Teen kicks off their new full-length with the statement that it’s good to be alive. Of course, that has everything to do with love: “He met a girl at the rock ‘n’ roll show // She’s got it going and she loves The Ramones // She’s not in the mainstream // This week she’s aquamarine” (from Mainstream). That almost sounds too good to be true, and as you could expect halfway through the LP the situation is less positive: “Every morning I awake alone // It got me thinking // Maybe I’ve been doing it wrong” (from January). These are two highlights of the album – it’s a self-titled one, which is a deliberate choice because it was a real band effort to capture the live energy, and a labor of love over two disrupted years. You’ll understand, the ten fresh songs here touch on the perennial classic pop themes of love and loss. Mark Britton (guitar, vocals), Mike Turner (guitar, vocals), Carl Bayliss (drums, vocals), and Simon Muttitt (bass) deliver them in a melodic power pop package, but the content with harmony vocals and suggestions of new-wave, twang, balladry and – strongly – glam rock make it a colorful and varied whole. One of the tracks was written using artificial intelligence – we don’t know which one, but I suspect a computer isn’t creative enough for lyrics like this: “Give it up // You couldn’t give it up // You got physical // (Ooh)… alcohol, pills and methanol // You’re so invincible – mystical – ooh… // You had to taste it all” (from Barlight Crawl, another standout). The band wanted to make a kick-ass album that people could turn their car stereos up and enjoy during the first hints of summer, and in that mission they succeeded magnificently.

Amoeba Teen is out now digitally and on CD through Big Stir Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Big Stir

New album: Quaker Wedding || Total Disarray

Salinas Records is having quite the Spring. In the same week they released the highly anticipated sophomore record by Joyride! – which we loved, they also released the second Quaker Wedding album.

If you haven’t heard about this three-piece from NYC, you are not the only one. To an extent this has to do with the fact that Quaker Wedding doesn’t seem all that concerned with being hip, happening or polishing up their sound; they are all about writing great songs. And if there is one name that comes to mind while listening to Quaker Wedding it’s Blake Schwarzenbach. If you like the output of his bands (Jawbreaker, Jets To Brazil and Forgetters), there is a strong likelihood you will like the new Quaker Wedding record. Operating on a similar sonic spectrum somewhere between punk and rock, it has that same underappreciated quality that accumulates critical acclaim which doesn’t automatically translate to success.

Total Disarray is full of Punk rock with rough edges and a lot of melancholy. Destined to be overlooked by the many, I can see Total Disarray being fully embraced by the few. Count me in, I think this one’s special.

Total Disarray is out now through Salinas Records – the label founded by Quaker Wedding frontman Marco Reosti.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New album: Two Houses || Can’t Fail

The Spotify bio of Two Houses reads “Smash Mouth meets Rage Against The Machine.” – Vice
The band’s Bandcamp bio reads “Triumphant sad bastard music.”

When in doubt, always go with Bandcamp. But, I would add that the Triumphant sad bastard music of Chicago three-piece Two Houses is in fact anthemic blue collar punkrock, the kind that could appeal to punks and indie rockers alike. The absolute standout track on the band’s latest full-length Can’t Fail is Lost. It’s the kind of anthem that offers cathartic release and will likely be a highlight of their live shows. “Don’t know where I’m going || don’t care if I get there at all || I got lost along the way.”

Lost should provide you with a gateway to the rest of the record. That records shows a band that is much more serious about their music than their streaming platform’s tag lines seem to suggest. Can’t Fail is a seriously solid record. Try it, you might like it too.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Inches From Glory || It Only Gets Better

Inches From Glory are a dynamic punk trio from St. Louis. After releasing a couple of EPs, the band just dropped their first LP. It’s called It Only Gets Better, and it’s not about the pandemic. Rather, the band explains at River Front Times, the title originally was a sarcastic take on the old adage that things eventually get better when life hits you hard – in the case of the three members of Inches From Glory: a bad breakup, the death of a father and dropping out of college. But as time passed on, things actually got a little better. And so it goes.

Inches From Glory self-describe their sound as jangly punk rock, but the emo and math rock influences are hard to overlook on It Only Gets Better. Inches From Glory find a perfect balance between these influences though, and you need to be a math of emo fan to appreciate the band’s sound. Expect heartfelt vocals, varied tempo’s, loud drumming, twinkly guitar riffs, and anthemic songs with lyrics about dealing with loss and feeling out of step.

“You live in the space inside my mind || Hope you’re comfortable”

It Only Gets Better is out now digitally through Dining Room Collective.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: Yeah Maybe || Ok, Sure

Is there a more quintessential name for a slacker rock project than Yeah Maybe? Ok Sure is the Tacoma duo’s debut release, a three song catchy, fuzzy guitar driven affair with hints of Nirvana and Car Seat Headrest.

What stands out with Yeah Maybe are the strong vocal melodies. Clearly, these dudes know how to write a tune. And, they have already planned “at least two albums,” which sounds surprisingly ambitious and out of character for a band called Yeah Maybe.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Joyride! || Miracle Question

With Easter 2022 in the books, let’s kick of the work week by injecting a high dose of energy and melody. San Francisco indiepunks Joyride! went on hiatus in 2016 – finishing school, starting professional careers and all that, but kept on writing songs throughout the years. When the band decided to finally make a comeback, they had plenty of songs to pick from.

And that shows. Their new record Miracle Question is all killer, no filler. It’s full of life and heart, it’s scrappy and super catchy. Its scope should appeal to a broad audience, from indie rock aficionado’s to fans of pop punk and even twee. What makes Miracle Question such a tight and effective record is that Joyride! have mastered the art of trimming songs to their best parts only. The 86 second jolt of energy that is Flyover States is probably the best example of this. Routine Maintenance is another example. Why waste time on intro’s, when you can  seduce listeners from the get-go?

With Miracle Question, Joyride! come eerily close to indiepunk perfection. If you’re looking for 28 minutes of uncomplicated fun, look no further. Out now through Salinas Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Salinas Records

New album: Shake Some Action! || Wide Awake

Named after The Flamin’ Groovies’ 1976 masterpiece, Seattle-based power pop band Shake Some Action! set the bar high, and 15 years after debuting they’re still going strong. Now a duo, singer-songwriter James Hall (vocals, guitars, bass, keys) and Corey Knafelz (drums, guitars, keys), have put out their new album Wide Awake, featuring 10 modern classics. Opening song Paint You a Picture immediately grabs you, then you don’t get the chance to let your attention slip. This is half an hour of powerful music that approaches perfection. You’ll hear diverse, summery indie rock with well-crafted melodies – guitars that alternately jangle and scream – interspersed with elements of shoegaze and psych. RIYL Ash, The Posies, Nada Surf, The Stone Roses.

Wide Awake is out now digitally. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New single: The Bug Club || Two Beauties

Six months ago South Wales trio The Bug Club – Tilly Harris (bass, vocals), Sam Willmett (guitar, vocals), and Dan Matthew (drums) – released their amazing mini album Pure Particles. It ended up high in our year-end lists of 2021, and we’d like to emphasize that a vinyl repress is very much needed. At the beginning of this year, the single Intelectuals followed, which initially raised questions due to a playing time of 10:42, but when listened to it turned out to be 5 new tracks, recorded back-to-back in one take. And now the band shares Two Beauties, 2 new songs: Lay Down Your Roses is a typical catchy Bug Club hit that you’ll immediately love, Pretty as a Dog in the Light proves that the band can also write beautiful acoustic ballads. It is the prelude to a full-length LP that should be released later in 2022 – something to look forward to!

Two Beauties is out now digitally via Bingo Records. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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