Jangle Pop

New album: West Coast Music Club || Faded Scrapbook

Just half a year after their previous album Take A Deep Breath (featuring the amazing single Jenny’s Still Got (What It Takes), remember?), here’s the fourth full-length from UK indie pop trio West Coast Music Club. The beautiful title Faded Scrapbook reveals the central theme of the ten new songs: their poetic lyrics deal with dreams and memories, regret and longing, faith and satisfaction. The words of Fanclub Favorite could have been ours: “We can’t forget the joy that we felt // You soundtracked our lives don’t you know what you meant.” We enjoy this Hotel California: “I asked you if you knew what ‘Tiffany-twisted’ meant // Or what ‘colitas’ were, you smiled and said Who cares? // This song is beautiful, kiss me, kiss me make you mine.” And the title track, advising to turn the page, also applies to this LP: “Around the corner something new no certainty of lasting.”

This is varied guitar-driven music that switches between dreamy jangle pop, psychedelic shoegaze and uplifting power pop. Songwriters Martin Adams (vocals, guitar) and Peter Madden (guitar, bass), together with Marc Joy (drums, bass), have delivered a small masterpiece that won’t lose its color for the foreseeable future.

Faded Scrapbook is out now digitally and on CD through 72rpm Records and Kool Kat Musik.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: The Sylvia Platters || Youth Without Virtue

Lovers of jangly guitars and dreamy power pop, take note. Vancouver four piece The Sylvia Platters are in exceptional good form on their new EP Youth Without Virtue.

Fully comfortable with a permanent stay in the underground music scene (as the band’s singer guitarist Nick Ubels explains here), The Sylvia Platters’ prime concern seem to be to write the best songs they can under their own rules. That approach fits the band perfectly. Churning out pop gem after gem, the Youth Without Virtue EP is pure ear candy – my two current favorite songs embedded below. So thank you for being you, The Sylvia Platters!

Between this EP and Slack Times’ Carried Away, a pretty pretty good week for guitar pop.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New single: The Umbrellas || Write It In The Sky

Could this be the best single of 2022? For those into indie pop and twee, this may be very well be the case. Write It In The Sky offers an instant rush while forfeiting the inevitable sugar dip. Rather, the positive vibes the song will linger throughout your day. The song is fuzzy, melodic, equal parts Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, Comet Gain and The Pastels; in short, a massive hit. On flipside I’ll Never Understand, The Umbrellas show a more introspected and less upbeat side that does not disappoint at all.

I loved The Umbrellas’ 2021 debut LP, but with this single, they hint that the best is yet to come. Write It In The Sky is out now through Slumberland, Meritorio, Tear Jerk and Fastcut Records. Buy without caution.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New EP/album: Slack Times || Carried Away

Slack Times are Chris McCauley, Will Stewart and Stuart Norman who have a shared past in The Blips, Bad Hops, and Holy Youth. With Slack Times they try to capture the mood and feel of Yo La Tengo, R.E.M., and the Feelies. I think those are solid reference points of the band’s sound, though I would describe Slack Times as more punchy and lively. Today, they dropped their third release Carried Away.

I’m in doubt whether to describe Carried Away as the band’s third EP or as a compilation. That is, Meritorio Records decided to press Carried Away together with the band’s previous two EP’s, something I wish more labels would do with bands that have a strong back catalogue. The Carried Away LP contains the first Slack Times EP Up Here (2020), which I liked and is now available for the first time on vinyl. Their second EP At The Blue Melon Rendezvous (2021), which I loved, is also included. But the 6 new songs included on the LP (i.e., the Carried Away EP) may very well be the best thing Slack Times have recorded so far.

The title track is the first song on the EP/comp, and it’s like I’m hearing Big Star for the first time. It’s a gorgeous track that gave me goosebumps the first time I heard it. The second track is Look At You. On this track, Slack Times play jangly powerpop over a catchy bass riff and the result somehow reminds me of the garage pop of bands like Harlem, Jacuzzi Boys and Jaill. Put these first two songs on a single, and you’d have about the perfect 7″.

But that would mean you would miss out on the delighful jangle hits I’m Trying and Bad Move.

With so many releases out every week, it’s quite the feat when a band makes you want to order a record after the first play. That’s exactly what Slack Times achieved with Carried Away. Pre-order the vinyl now at Meritorio Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Meritorio Records

New album: Various Artists || Welcome To Oakland

Should we pack our bags and just move to Oakland? If that decision would solely depend on the quality of bands germinating from the fertile grounds of that area, it would be a no-brainer. Just take a listen to the Welcome To Oakland comp.

Curated by Dandy Boy Records, quickly becoming a go-to source for underground pop excellence, Welcome To Oakland compiles the cream of the crop of the Oakland scene. That includes ATW favorites like Sob Stories, Yae-Ming and The Rumours, The 1981, Blue Ocean, R.E. Seraphin, but also bands currently not on our radar but we can’t wait to hear more from like Throwback Party, Fast Execution, and Shutups.

Welcome To Oakland is the kind of comp you play front-to-back without skipping any of the songs, striking the right balance between familiar hits and new discoveries. It is out now on Cassette at Dandy Boy Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Healees || Healees

Born out of a shared love for guitar pedals and new wave bands, Healees (from Paris) started out in 2015. It took them some time to release their official debut, but it’s finally here: an 8-song cassette filled with easy-on-the-ears tunes in a bandwidth ranging from janglepop to shoegaze and everything in between. Healees not only have more nationalities than most indie pop bands (four!), they also sound more punchy, unafraid to turn up the volume knob of their amps. Their melodies are nuanced and subtle though, and Healees leave it up to you how to experience the record. Whether you desire to be entertained, mesmerized or just a unobtrusive soundscape to your work or commute, Healees will deliver on all fronts.

The Healees cassette is out now through Hidden Bay Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: Toothpicks || Fun & Fancy Free

Summer solstice 2022, the longest day / shortest night of the year, seems like the perfect moment to point out Fun & Fancy Free, a new 6-track EP from Provo, Utah-based 4-piece Toothpicks. The band, formed at the end of 2019 by brothers Cade Murdock (vocals, guitar) and Rhett Murdock (drums), now also featuring Truman Magleby (keys) and Brady Flores (bass), wrote “a love-letter and farewell to western surf music.” These are cool sounds – dreamy, jangly and mesmerizing – that will get us through all those hours today and the hot days that follow.

Fun & Fancy Free is out now digitally and on cassette through UPHERE! Records. For fans of Allah Las, The Growlers, Tijuana Panthers, Beach Skulls.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Green/Blue || Paper Thin

Listen. We get it. There is a definite rebound effect to the pandemic. Records were shelved, tours were postponed. Bands and fans had to wait for what felt like forever to get reacquainted and celebrate their shared love of music. As such, we’ve seen so many releases this year that we’re struggling to keep up. But it gets worse when bands release not one but two great records a mere six months apart. So damn you, Green/Blue!

I’m looking at you, Jim Blaha (Blind Shake/Shadow In The Cracks), Annie Sparrows (Soviettes/Awesome Snakes), Dan Henry (Sgt 6 Assault/Dummies/France Has The Bomb), and Hideo Takahashi (France Has The Bomb/Sweet J.A.P./Nice & Neat Records). I know you are respected veterans of the Minneapolis scene, but you are turning us into spoiled little brats if you continue on this path. With your short and tight mid-fi mesmerizing new wavish, garagy, postpunky pop nuggets. With these ten tracks on Paper Thin that are just as great as the ten songs on Offering. Another reason to be kinda mad: how am I going to pick one of these records over the other in my AOTY list?

On Paper Thin, Green/Blue sound like a punkrock version of the Cure or like Arcade Fire on a diet of everything that is good about underground ’80s music, or like Jeff Burke (of Radioactivity/Marked Men fame) fronting either of these bands. It’s freakin’ great and out now through Feel It Records. But in all fairness,, it should be the last Green/Blue record for at least six months.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Feel It Records

New album: World Image || World Image

While browsing Bandcamp, I came across the song World Image, which turned out to be the opening track of World Image, the debut album by Canadian three-piece World Image. I liked what I heard, and luckily there were seven other jangly tunes that are just as captivating. World Image features Malcolm Jackson Biddle (vocals, guitars, harmonica, songwriting, production), Calen Degnan (bass) and Allan Miller lll (drums), and they play dreamy psych pop with a summery feel. The music, inspired by Meat Puppets, was recorded and mixed on a Tascam 388 at “Taco Tuesdays” last spring. In the words of the frontman: “We wanted to do something lowkey but glassy, some kinda 90’s northwest hippie grunge.” Anyhow, World Image is another great discovery for fans of great jangle pop – we’ll definitely be listening to it in the fall as well.

World Image is out now digitally (self-released). Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Buddhist Bubblegum & Wiggly || Dreaming Of The Desert (Split)

Slovenia and Poland are not at the top of my list of countries I asssociate with sunshine pop, but perhaps I should recalibrate. Meet Buddhist Bubblegum, a project by Wiktor Szotowski – a Polish emigrant now based in the capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana. His most recent release is a split with Wiggly, a pseudonym for “an eclectic, freewheeling singer” songwriter form the US state of Missouri. More than each artist simply contributing songs to the split, Dreaming Of The Desert is a collaboration, with Wiggly providing lyrics to one of the Buddhist Bubblegum songs (Summertime), and Buddhist Bubblegum covering a Wiggly original (Stationary Weathervane).

The Wiggly side of Dreaming Of The Desert challenges my comfort zone, but I’m fascinated. Wiggly’s music is all over the place, and experimental folk is probably the easiest way to describe it. The acoustic guitar is joined by all kinds of soundscapes and quirky instrumentations. Quite mesmerizing.

The Buddhist Bubblegum side though, that’s where I feel right at home. Szotowski puts his own spin on ’60s pop with Buddhist Bubblegum, combining sugary sweet melodies with fuzzy and jangly guitars – and steady upbeat drumming by Maks Rozman of the Slovenian pop groups Regen and Masaž. Remember The Brother Kite? That’s the first reference that came to mind. Or if you don’t know that band, Buddhist Bubblegum kinda is like a blend of Nada Surf and The Resonars. It’s perfect music to accompany you on your ride to your early morning surf sessions. Or perfect music for your commute. Or for your work-from-home sessions. Or your bike ride. I guess what I’m trying to say is, listening to Buddhist Bubblegum will make any day more enjoyable.

Dreaming Of The Desert is out now on CD at New Jersey label Cavern Brew Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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