Indie Rock

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).

New album: Lizard Music || Arizone!

Another comeback worthy of your attention. In the early 90s, Lizard Music offered music fans who didn’t like grunge an alternative with their vocal harmony-driven surreal pop. After a few independent releases, the band – Mikael Jorgensen, Erik Paparozzi, Chris Apple and Craig Smith – went on hiatus in 1997 (they continued to make music separately from each other, among others with Wilco, Cat Power , Lana Del Ray, deSoL, and Moroccan Sheepherders). During the lockdown in the summer of 2020, they reunited – excited and curious – to create  brand new work. In a slow-motion improvisation, 15 new songs – about breakups and mixtapes – emerged, which were then enriched and perfected, and are now collected on full-length album Arizone! (already released digitally and on CD in October, now also on vinyl). It’s a remarkable and eclectic record, in which 60’s garage psych and 90’s alternative rock merge with vocal harmonies and alienating soundscapes. Not really easy listening, but with enough great finds to surprise you and keep you interested.

Arizone! is out digitally, on CD and 2LP through Omnivore Recordings.

Add to wantlist: Omnivore

Music Year-End List || Dennis’ Favorite Albums of 2021

All year long we look forward to this moment of looking back, escaping the continuous flow of new releases for a while, taking the time to recap what really stood out these 12 months. In 2021 I took my FOMO more seriously than ever: I’ve checked out 2,200+ new albums, twice as many as last year (this hobby is getting out of hand). The disadvantage of this is that you don’t get any sleep, but still it isn’t possible to give anything that looks promising the attention it deserves. Anyway, along the way I built up a longlist of 120+ LPs that are wantlist-worthy, which I now have brought down to a Top 50.

In any post on this website, we try to put into words which artists are involved, how their instruments and vocals sound, whether their songs are catchy or dreamy or energetic or dark, where their inspiration for lyrics came from, etc., but I have my year-end list compiled as I always have, simply in order of what I loved and played the most – personal taste preference as the debatable deciding factor. My choices are all about guitar-driven, authentic indie rock, power pop, garage rock, roots, and jangle pop, plus a little bit of soul, country, folk, and alternative rock.

New EP: Bridge Dog || Going South

Bridge Dog are a boy-girl duo, based in Sydney, who, after a few separate tracks earlier this year, have now released the 6-track EP Going South. Their music is an interesting mix of dream pop and fuzz rock, with jangly guitars and sweet, sunny vocals. The title track could easily become a classic, thanks to the driving melody, but even more so because of the memorable lyrics – phrases like “I drove to the end of the road // Just to see how far it goes” and “Try not to wear it on your sleeve // A vicious circle by design” are too well-found to forget. If we had a label, we’d want to sign this band today. RIYL Alvvays, Chime School, Falconet.

The Going South EP is out now digitally. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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