In their latest release, Chaotic Pop Records continues to captivate with a delightful blend of indie pop goodness. This time, they bring together two talented Indonesion bands (Anti. (Solo, Central Java) & Poplar Tree (Depok, West Java) with Zenxith from Newcastle (UK).
With each band contributing two tracks, the compilation offers a diverse journey through the jangle and twee pop spectrum. Despite operating from distinct points within the genre, there’s a unifying charm that will undoubtedly resonate with a broad audience of indie pop enthusiasts.
Returning readers know we’re fans of Belfast-based songsmith Neil Brogan. Quality assured. Early this month he released the New Light EP, which hasn’t received as much attention as it deserves. So here we go. Opening song Line Check is the biggest earworm here, thanks to a repetitive head-nodding melody and easy-to-sing-along chorus. Title track (In a) New Light – present in two versions – is also bursting with charm, and on Outside Chance you can dance like no one is watching. This is uplifting jangly indie pop that only strengthens our love for this prolific artist.
The New Light EP is out digitally (self-released).
Keep an ear out for Indonesian labels Chaotic Pop & Disanorak, because their releases will activate your appetite for underground pop music. For their latest release, the two labels tag up for a two-song split tape between Anselmus and The Sensitive.
Hailing from Tangerang, Anselmus offers up an infectious jangly and upbeat track titled lost in the noise of corporate shelf, showcasing the solo project’s undeniable charm. Meanwhile, Jakarta twee pop outfit The Sensitive serenade listeners with a gentle and introspective track titled indiepop politics. Built upon a repetitive bass line and adorned with what I assume to be either a piano/synth or guitar, the track unfolds with a soothing allure.
This short yet sweet release leaves you yearning for more.
“Everything I’ve got // I can’t remember // I was worried about a lot // Back in December,” you’ll hear in the title song of the four-track EP Back In December by Kristof Souvagie aka Beech. Although I don’t recognize myself in these lyrics (December is all about end-of-year lists, always good for a great time ;-)), I really like the poppy indie rock of the Belgian musician. Jangly guitars, charming vocals and breezy harmonies, tending to perfection. Going Away and She Sits In The Sun in particular are summery hits that settle in the pleasure center of your brain after a few listens. And maybe these are also more relatable: “I’m going away // I’m doing nothing right // But my hands are tied // I’m going away.”
Back In December is out now digitally and on cassette through UhmYeahSure Records. Featuring Kristof Souvagie (drums, bass, guitars, vocals, synths), Jan Marcoen (guitars) and Bert Noël (synths).
See This Through is the debut EP from Brooklyn quartet Sorry Darling. The band plays alt pop infused indie rock with a solid balance between jangly and palm muted guitars. The dual and alternating vocals between the band’s songwriters Stephen Bailey and Liz Wagner Biro are another selling point of the band.
There is plenty more to like about this record though, and songs like In Theory and No Angle provide easy points of entry. But I’d like to place the spotlight on the song that carries their band name. Sorry Darling is a contemporary twist on jangly power pop that is hook-filled, and simply delightful.
Very nice to witness the development of Toronto-based jangle pop duo Ducks Ltd., who have just released their sophomore full-length Harm’s Way. On 2019’s Get Bleak EP they immediately hit the mark with four fine guitar tunes (later expanded to seven songs on vinyl), on 2021’s Modern Fiction LP they played more confident in ten tracks, and in between they sharpened their sound in successful covers of heroes like The Jesus And Mary Chain, The Cure and The Feelies in The Sincerest Form Of Flattery series. The new album is the superlative of the discography to date. Evan Lewis (guitars, drum programming, bass) and Tom McGreevy (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, keys, bass) know how to convey dark subjects with a breath of fresh air. Thanks to their acquired experience and collaboration* with other musicians, the nine new original songs are richer and even more tight than ever, without losing the charm that we fell for at the time. Will they ever surpass this melodic songcraft?
“They’re songs about struggling. About watching people I care for suffer, and trying to figure out how to be there for them. And about the strain of living in the world when it feels like it’s ready to collapse.” – Tom McGreevy
Harm’s Way, produced by Dave Vettraino, is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Carpark Records / Royal Mountain Records. *Also featuring Macie Stewart (violin), Marcus Nuccio (drums), Jonathan Pappo (drums), Briar Darling (cello), Julia Steiner (vocals), Margaret McCarthy (vocals), Nathan O’Dell (vocals), Jason Balla (vocals), Linsey-Paige Mccloy (vocals), Rui De Magalhaes (vocals), Julia Wittman (bass) and Dave Vettraino (organ) on selected tracks.
The idea is good, the execution is to the point, in several respects. British twee-pop trio The Happy Somethings return with two-song single Apples & Pairs. The lyrics are clever: “I like pears // Not just the fruity ones // I like doubles, anything in couples, even puzzles.” The music is appealing: jangly guitars and a functional piano and percussion, with dreamy melodies and authentic harmony vocals. The sound is lo-fi: unpolished but summery. In short: quirky but fun.
Apples & Pairs is out now digitally (self-released).
Ready for some classic twee pop with with a twist? A Nice Sit Down is a delightful and endearing indie pop debut by Lord Esme that is comprised of eight cute, pure and playful cuts.
Lord Esme’s Sally Williamson is an amazing singer, but she also plays the keys and sax – affectionately referred to as “sax crimes” by the band. The keys and sax parts are a nice touch and help Lord Esme to build an identity of their own. Having guitarist Ben Briedis take over vocal duties on selected songs is another refreshing change of pace.
A Nice Sit Down is a magnetic combo of musical charm and inventive expression, sparking anticipation for more greatness from this promising Sydney quartet. LP out now (licensed to Half A Cow Records); order directly at the band’s Bandcamp.
Sorry Monks is a new project from British musician Oliver Flanagan, now debuting with the six-track Girlfriend EP. This is about repetitive guitar pop that jangles playfully, with pleasant vocals and sun-kissed harmonies. Each track has a slightly different approach, showing melodic songcraft that becomes more and more tasteful with every spin. It takes no effort at all to follow the advice from the title of standout track Stop Look and Listen.
Girlfriend is out now digitally and on CD through Subjangle.
Is not writing about Touch Girl Apple Blossom’s four-song EP our biggest omission in 2023? The upbeat twee pop by the Austin-based band is heavenly indie pop nostalgia. It’s a good thing Simply Shade decided to re-release the EP, that first came out August 29 of last year, on a 7” (100 red, 400 black variants). The single is shipping out next week, and honestly, I would also buy this one if it featured either song on the A-side. Sidewalk and Dream From An Eyelash are instant classics. The B-side is a sweet extra.
Touch Girl Apple Blossom is the songwriting duo of Olivia Garner & John Morales together with bass player Dustin Pilkington and drummer Charles Powell.