Indie Rock

New album: Portabella || Return To The Fountain Of Olives

At the start of the new Portabella record, we overhear a discussion between its two band members Will and Jason: “We’re all gonna play our best, if people don’t like it, that’s okay, it’s not for you then.” Should we interpret this as management of expectations, a coping mechanism to mask insecurity? Or is it a disclaimer that this record is something different, and won’t be for everyone? My conclusion after listening to Return To The Fountain Of Olive? It’s definitely the latter. The record is full of experimental rock and psychedelica and quite the trip. No scratch that, it’s pretty weird. It’s probably further from my comfort zone than any of my other posts here. And yet, even though there are several songs that I don’t particularly enjoy, the record kept pulling me in. Album opener Angelic Super Slide (video below) offers a great taste of what to expect. It is arguably the most accessible songs on the record. Other cool tracks areThe Wrong Way, Nothing Left, Nothing, Insufferable Glow Boy and Earthworm Parachute. Out now on tape at the San Francisco label Paisley Shirt Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New single: Texpack || The Early Serenade

Let’s add Indonesia to our ever expanding list of fine music from around the Globe. To be more specific, let’s go to Bogor, Jakarta where Texpack recently released a three song EP called The Early Serenade. If you like alternative ’90’s pop, you will definitely enjoy this one. Never having heard of Texpack before, I mistakenly thought on the title track that Texpack was a new shoegaze project by Davey Von Bohlen (Cap’n Jazz, The Promise Ring, Maritime). The second track, Between 4 and 10 is a classic indie pop single including a surprise cameo of a trumpet. Speaking of trumpets, Texpack closes the EP with a well executed cover of the Eggstone song My Trumpets. Out now on Anoa Records (Jakarta).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: The Wedding Present || Locked Down And Stripped Back

To be honest, I’m not a big fan of all those lockdown covers and re-recordings. These are tough times, but I hope that artists can also turn the restrictions and suffering as a result of COVID-19 into impressive music, as severe pains have often led to great art. That said, fortunately there are exceptions and a few good lockdown albums are made.. The twelve Locked Down & Stripped Back versions that the legendary British indie rock band The Wedding Present has released are very impressive. Following the cancellation of the At The Edge Of The Sea festival, they decided to replace it with an online version presented from their living rooms, featuring home-recorded videos for which they re-worked tracks in a semi-acoustic style, now also available digitally, on CD and on vinyl. The collection features home recordings of ten classics and two previously unreleased songs: You’re Just A Habit That I’m Trying To Break is the first result of David Gedge’s songwriting partnership with new guitarist Jon Stewart (of Sleeper fame), We Should Be Together was originally written but never released by Sleeper themselves (now with Louise Wener on vocals). Listen to the two new tracks below.

Out now through Scopitones and HHBTM Records. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New album: The Martha’s Vineyard Ferries || Suns Out Guns Out

The three members of The Martha’s Vineyard Ferries, or ‘the Fuckin’ Ferries’ if you are in their inner circle, have a lot on their plate. They have their respective bands (Kahoots, Shellac, Volcano Suns, Mission of Burma, Come, Codeine, The New Year) as well as contributions to other acts (Lemonheads, Thurston Moore). Factor in the three different timezones they inhabit and you start to get why it took them eight years to follow up their previous record. Suns Out Guns Out is an interesting release. You may not like every second of it, but it feels like at any time, anything can happen. The band sometimes sounds like a more dissonant R.E.M. although Guided By Voices and Sonic Youth are more likely reference points. The GBV force is particularly strong on Betty Ford James. Make sure you watch all 70 seconds of the video for that song. See? Anything can happen.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs   

New album: State Drugs || Live. Laugh. Love.

With so much music coming out weekly (daily!), it’s easy to overlook records that demand a little bit more attention to fully appreciate. Live. Laugh. Love by State Drugs is such an album. Although the music spoke to me immediately, I was underwhelmed at first, perhaps due to the somewhat understated way of singing by the band’s frontman. I am happy that I gave the record another try though, because it contains premium quality midpaced punkrock, with fine guitar work and songs that increasingly get under your skin. The band operates somewhere between the altpop of the Lemonheads and the melodic punkrock of Samiam, most noticably on songs like Goonies or Threat Level Midnight, two of my early favorites on the record. Give this one a spin. No, scratch that. Give this one a couple of spins. You won’t regret it.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New single: Bandicoot || Dark Too Long

Welsh krautrock / post-punk band Bandicoot have released their new digital single Dark Too Long (Radio Edit), a song they describe themselves as a ‘frenzied cry of desperation from the depths of excess and loneliness, influenced by the driving rhythms of NEU! and Can’ (a previous cover album also reveals other influences). The song is an anthem for these times: recognizable lyrics that we would like to sing along (we’ve all been in the dark too long, so come on!) and a saxophone solo that takes the audience to a climax. Out now via Libertino Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Mary Anne’s Polar Rig || Makes You Happy

Are you ready for some fuzzy alternative slacker rock from Sweden? Make sure to check out the debut by Mary Anne’s Polar Rig. It’s called Makes Me Happy and it is kind of a mess, and I mean that as a compliment. It’s a chaotic record, with a lot going on. The band immediately draws you in with album opener Something About Your Way. It is short, fast and catchy. It is followed by Your House, which starts tenderly before erupting in an infectious chorus. It is not the only track where the band effectively uses soft loud dynamics. Liar Liar for example, another standout track, starts with an thunderous bass riff and ends explosively, but also has a quiet yet intense interlude where singer Malin Hofvander wails “i want to feel sexy || i want to feel sure || i don’t want to be rejected || i want to be adored”. Hofvander’s voice gives Makes You Happy an edge, but ultimately Mary Anne’s Polar Rig sounds like a well oiled collective. This is quite the debut. Out now on Please Like it & Feverish. RIYL: Evans The Death and Joanna Gruesome.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New single: Eades || Former Warnings Cluster

The song I played the most this week is Former Warnings Cluster by UK 5-piece Eades. The first 15 seconds I wasn’t immediately convinced (is that an 80s synthesizer?), but then the singer grabs you and a little later a cowbell is added with enthusiasm (more cowbell!) – at that moment resisting is no longer possible, certainly if the tempo is increased a little further. On repeat! Out now through Heist or Hit.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Band of Young Saints || Misadventure

Misadventure, the new album by Band of Young Saints (B.O.Y.S.) from Brooklyn (NY), is a welcome surprise. The cover art caught my eye, the music wouldn’t let me go. The four band members look cool, and that’s how they sound. A lot happens in the seven uptempo songs, the instruments challenge each other but are in balance, the vocals are exciting. Very nice.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: S:Bahn || Queen Of Diamonds

Can you still call it a sophomore album when there is a 25 year gap between a band’s debut and second full-length? I am not sure, but I am glad that Melbourne based indie rock band S:Bahn came out of a long hibernation. The band’s second record sounds varied and inspired and is called Queen of Diamonds. Songs like Sync or Swim and We Move will appeal to fans of the postpunk of Fontaines D.C and Ought, whereas songs like Exhaustion, The Tide That Pulls Me Away From You (my personal favorite ) and Pulse are more melodic and straightforward indie rock. Vinyl orders available through Polaks Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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