Jangle Pop

New EP: The Martial Arts || Getting Stranger By The Moment

Retropop easily can become too campy for my taste, but if it’s executed well, it can be quite delightful. I count Glasgow band The Martial Arts’ new EP (Getting Stranger By The Moment) in the latter category. The main draw of the EP is its lead single Bethany, which frontman Paul Kelly (of BMX Bandits, The Primary 5 and many more) colors with just the right sepia tones. If you are looking for an escape from your 2021 blues, give this one a spin.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Last Night In Glasgow

New EP: 빅베트 Bigbet || 타인의 마음 Other’s Mind

Say Sue Me already proved that it pays off to keep an eye on the South-Korean music scene. 빅베트 (Bigbet) is another example of the fine indie pop coming out of that scene. Bigbet is an abbreviation of Big Baby Driver Trio, but the band actually has four members. The 타인의 마음 Other’s Mind EP is a good introduction to the sonic range of the band. 안녕 (Goodbye) is a particularly gorgeous track. It’s about “the breakup with familiar feelings, places and loved ones which made us who we are now.” Other tracks show more punch, like the LGBTQ support anthem 무지개소년 Rainbow Boy. Out now on Electric muse.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Tincho || A Decent Descent

Tincho was a quartet for their debut album Home Today, for follow-up A Decent Descent it’s a solo project by Marty Kaleta. He wrote and recorded the ten new songs in a handful of Airbnbs in Buenos Aires (Argentina) and Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). Nice summery guitar music, I am a Happy Old Man when this sound blares out of the speakers. Jangle pop record of the week. Out digitally via Wild Bare Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Proud Parents || At Home With…

There are at least two reasons why the new Proud Parents was on the top of my pile of new releases to check today. One: Proud Parents’ previous record was released on Dirtnap records. I essentially like every band Dirtnap puts out, and that record was a lot of fun. Two: Amos Pitsch (of Tenement and creator of one of my favorite records of the past decade) helped out with recording the record, together with some of his buddys from Dusk – disclaimer: I am interested in anything Amos is involved in.

And what a good way to start this day it is. On At Home With, the garage pop of Proud Parents blossoms as never before. The record has enough jangle, hooks, and catchy choruses to lure in the indie pop crowd, but also sufficient bite to keep the indie punk kids satisfied. I love the spontaneous nature of the record: the songs sound like they were recorded with the full band in one take and the record has the energy of a live show. But then, on closer inspection, you start to notice how well written these songs are, and how the band worked on adding harmonies and other cool elements to maximize their sound. And boy, did they succeed. There are worse places to be than At Home With… Proud Parents, and I can see myself returning to this feel good record often this year. Highly recommended. It’s available on cassette, but I sure hope they do a vinyl release rather sooner than later.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Smile || The Name Of This Band Is Smile

There is no shortage of bands called Smile. This one is a four-piece from Turin (Italy), who started playing together in 2019 and just dropped their debut record. Smile play uptempo underground pop with a strong ’90s vibe, not unlike Bob Mould but with a clean jangly guitar as the central driver of the songs. The Name Of This Band Is Smile is by no means a perfect record – some songs lack focus and direction and hooks to keep your attention. But, the record offers plenty of moments where you hear the potential of the band. Listen to How The Race Is Done and From Here On for example. The band gives some additional info about the record on their Facebook page:  “This record is a no-filter picture of our first year as a band. A year made of songs, electricity, gigs, and the final delusion of the pandemic. It’s a record about the alienation of everyday life stuck between bad and underpaid jobs, the uncertainty of feelings, and the depression of the lack of alternatives given by capitalist realism.”

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Space Cadet || Lion On A Leash

Space Cadet is quite the departure from the in-you-face punkrock Matt Hock and David Walsh used to play with The Explosion. Their debut album Lion On A Leash features  the kind of guitar driven dreamy postpunk that slowly but surely gets under your skin. Hock explains at Glide Magazine: “The record sounds like two guys who love reverb and chorus pedals, The Stone Roses, Cock Sparrer and The Rolling Stones.” A Spotify  playlist curated by the band also notes The Jam, Wire, Joe Strummer, John Cale, Slowdive, Oasis, and Sugar as influences. It’s hard to really pinpoint any of these bands to the sound of Space Cadet, but there is a sense of familiarity to most of their songs. For example, If Only and Scream For You have a ’80s new wave vibe, and Bad Luck clearly nods to Britpop. My favorite tracks are Forever For A While and Start Running Way.  Those two sound effortless and confident, and are among the punchier songs on the album.  They are the recommended entry point for those sceptical about the new musical direction Hock and Walsh take with Space Cadet. Ultimately, I think Lion On A Leash is quite the leap from The Explosion, but it’s worth the trip.  Out now on Wiretap Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Wiretap Records

New single: Los Palms || Los Palms

I love to wade through the enormous amount of music that is coming out. But, in all honesty, 99% of the new releases do not click with me. That makes the discovery of a gem all the more valuable, the element of surprise creating an instant dopamine rush. The self-titled debut single by Los Palms is like that. The first ten seconds of Junkie Hotel feel like you have been wandering in the desert in the full sun all day and you suddenly come across a giant pool of fresh water. Los Palms are a band from Adelaide. They have created their own blend of classic California surf rock and Southern American 60’s music, and dubbed it desert jangle. It’s an apt description. The band’s sound elicits images of open plains, heat, dust, cacti, passing tumbleweeds and cowboys on horses riding towards a sunset. The band’s impressive artwork, illustrated by frontman Ant, strengthen that image. Clearly, Los Palms have the aesthetics and sound of a band with ambition.

Los Palms started in 2019, with their first (!) show opening for the Growlers. They are already making waves back home, with their single Roll On being in constant rotation on local radio. They’ve compiled four of their best songs on their first physical release, out March 27. The single is limited to 150 – good luck with getting that one. The band hopes to take their music on the road in Australia later this year, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them do an international tour rather sooner than later. Listen to Lost Phantom for example (video below): a song that hints upon early Allah-las and the Walkmen in their Hundres Miles Off era.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Full Power Happy Hour || Full Power Happy Hour

Based on the band name Full Power Happy Hour and the cover art of their self-titled debut album, I expected this would be drink till you drop party music, but that’s definitely not the case. A more suitable name for this Australian five-piece could have been New Trusted Friend”, for example: you just met them but you immediately know that it’s all right, as if you have known each other for some time. Singer / songwriter Alex Campbell’s eight songs are beautifully sung, heartfelt and beguiling. Her band – Grace (guitar / vocals), Caroline (bass / vocals), Finn (tambourine / vocals) and Joe (drums) – play a mix of alt country, indie folk, and jangle pop. Listen and you’ll agree with me it’s more than all right. Out now digitally, on CD and on vinyl LP through Coolin’ By Sound. RIYL The Clean, Alvvays, Permits.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Max And The Martians || All The Same

Contrary to what most of my posts suggest, I DO occasionally enjoy music that is a little more subtle, quiet or introspective. Take this new record by Max And The Martians. First impression: ‘this is not bad at all, and somewhat sounds like a mix of Purple Mountains and Sonny And The Sunsets. This deserves another listen.’ Second take: It’s saturday morning, I am reading the paper, drinking coffee. And this record just clicks – another illustration of how contexdependent our experience of music is. This record has an old time mellow feel to it, like it is a long lost classic pop record. The music and voice of Max Bien-Kahn (the mastermind behind this band) oozes sadness and melancholy, but the music is not depressive. It is a contrast that made the Purple Mountains LP so devastating, and applies here as well. Listen to the upbeat Milky Way (video below) for example – “Gonna Lose My Mind // Before It Runs Away.” Remember listening to music with the lyric sheet on your lap? This is the kind of record that warrants a return to that habit. With All The Same you get great music, great lyrics. Oh, and great videos as well. On the Wantlist already!

That leaves us with one question:  Who are these Martians? It’s a an all star cast of rotating backing musicians. If you want to deep dive into their musical backgrounds, they are Esther Rose (who has a new record I am excited about coming out soon), Ross Farbe and Ray Micarelli (Video Age), Jordan Odom (Gold Star), Shaye Cohn (Tuba Skinny), Duff Thompson, Camille Weatherford (The Lostines), and Steph Green (Carver Baronda).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New single: CalicoLoco || More of the Same

The American five-piece CalicoLoco have already released a few singles in recent months and now here is More of the Same. That title doesn’t hold true for the music, which is even more jangly and appealing than their other songs – imho this is their best yet. A demo version of the track was already shared in 2019, but a new, official recording in 2021 was a good idea. Maybe they don’t think it’s just a game anymore, and take it more seriously now?

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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