Jangle Pop

New album: Shake Some Action! || Wide Awake

Named after The Flamin’ Groovies’ 1976 masterpiece, Seattle-based power pop band Shake Some Action! set the bar high, and 15 years after debuting they’re still going strong. Now a duo, singer-songwriter James Hall (vocals, guitars, bass, keys) and Corey Knafelz (drums, guitars, keys), have put out their new album Wide Awake, featuring 10 modern classics. Opening song Paint You a Picture immediately grabs you, then you don’t get the chance to let your attention slip. This is half an hour of powerful music that approaches perfection. You’ll hear diverse, summery indie rock with well-crafted melodies – guitars that alternately jangle and scream – interspersed with elements of shoegaze and psych. RIYL Ash, The Posies, Nada Surf, The Stone Roses.

Wide Awake is out now digitally. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: Stephen’s Shore || Green

The five members of Stephen’s Shore (Sweden), arguably one of Europe’s finest janglepop bands of today, share a love for California, skateboarding, moody pop songs and jangly guitars. You can tell from their sound that pop music is in their DNA – kind of a common theme in the country of Sweden. Stephen’s Shore play a special kind of pop though.

The band’s newest release is a 4-song EP called Green, which follows the Brisbane Radio EP (2021) and the September Love LP (2018). To be fair, I loved the Brisbane Radio EP and would have been happy if the band had just kind of copied that EP song-for-song. But now that I’ve heard the Green EP, I’m amazed by the growth of the band. Stephen’s Shore sound more confident, patient and in fuller posession of their powers than before. Unafraid to let their strong melodies simmer and their guitars jangle, Stephen’s Shore will slowly break down your defenses and let their songs find a permanent home in the reward centre of your brain.

The first song to find its way? Probably Ocean’s Calling, which I think is the best Stephen’s Shore song to date. I could play that one all day, and immediately feel like I’m taking a beach walk during a gorgeous sunset.

The Green EP is out now through Meritorio Records – on green vinyl of course.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Meritorio

New album: No Frills || Downward Dog

Therapists are expensive, but writing songs is free, so Daniel Busheikin (vocals, guitars, synth, album art) uses music to confront his neuroses. No Frills evolved from a solitary bedroom project to a full band, also featuring Mike Searle (bass), Maddy Wilde (vocals, synth), Jon Pappo (drums), and Matt Buckberrough (guitar). On their debut DIY album Downward Dog you’ll hear 14 wobbly lo-fi songs about depression, defeat and death, without getting heavy or dark. The “bummer pop” of the Toronto-based 5-piece is appealing and straightforward, thanks to the relatable and comforting tragicomic lyrics, but even more so because of the earworm melodies – jangly guitars and moody synths – and melancholic vocals. This is a sound that you can easily embrace, that somehow doesn’t let you go when you immerse yourself in it. Therapeutic, heart warming and addictive. RIYL: Badly Drawn Boy, Refrigerator, EELS, Mac DeMarco.

“Honestly // It’s all just a matter of time // But I love a long goodbye”

“Every moment gained is // A moment gone”

“Just an idea I could stay home alone tonight // You go ahead, I’ll be fine”

Downward Dog is out now digitally (self-released). Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Mick Trouble || It’s Mick Trouble’s Second LP

So here we are. After It’s The Mike Trouble EP, Here’s The Mick Trouble LP, we arrived at It’s Mick Trouble’s Second LP. And like the difference in release titles is minimal, so too is the difference in Mick Trouble’s sound on the three releases hardly noticable. For which I’m grateful, because Mick Trouble (aka Jed Smith of My Teenage Stride and Jeanines) already is possession of the winning formula for creating underground pop hits.

It’s Mick Trouble’s Second LP offers more of the jangly chiming guitars, crisp bass work, hyperactive drums, pop hooks, and Television Personalities worship we’ve come to associate with Mick Trouble. Most of the record is vintage British underground pop that sounds authentically ’80s, but there also some fun exceptions like the Zombiesesque ’60s hit The Bleeding Downs. Currently, my favorite track is Top Of The Flops, a song I’m not ashamed to admit having played five times in a row just now.

It’s Mick Trouble’s Second LP is out now through Emotional Response. You should get it, probably, really, surely.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

Dusted || The 10 Best Cover Songs Of March 2022

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.

Never – since we started this website – have I seen so many good covers come along as this March. We already wrote about Night Owls’ heavy soul and dub infusedVersions, Wednesday released the nice country-gaze cover album Mowing the Leaves Instead of Piling ’em Up, Black Midi came out with their surprising Cavalcovers EP, there was a second volume of The William Loveday Intention’s The New And Improved Bob Dylan, and so on. On the list we compiled during the month, there were 35+ covers that were good enough to share below, but we forced ourselves to be critical, with enough variety. So here again are our ten top picks!

Here Comes The Summer || Cover: Sweet Nobody || Original: The Undertones
Californian indie pop 4-piece released Five Star Diary, one of the standout tracks from their album We’re Trying Our Best, on 7″ vinyl. On the flipside you can hear a really cool version of The Undertones’ Here Comes The Summer. Irresistible catchy! Out through Lazy Perfection Records.

New album: Jim Shepherd || The Circle

In the 80s, The Jasmine Minks released some pretty good indie pop music on the iconic Creation Records. Jim Shepherd, the lead singer, guitarist and songwriter of the UK band, thought it was about time for his first solo album, and The Circle has everything you could expect from it. The musician still proves to know how to write good tunes! These are 12 brand new songs in which different styles come together – let’s describe it as haunted indie rock with jangly guitars and harmony vocals, with power pop and psych influences – and yet it feels like a unambiguous collection. The quality of this LP is also due to the backing by a supergroup featuring Dave Morgan (The Loft, the Weather Prophets, Subway Sect) on drums and production, Frank Sweeney (The June Brides) on strings and keyboards and Arash Torabi (The June Brides, The Distractions, Beat Hotel) on bass, with guest vocals by Tommy Reid (The Jasmine Minks), Beth Arzy (The Luxembourg Signal, Jetstream Pony), Aberdeen’s Vapor Trails and Marianne Dissard. Nothing has been left to chance for this to be a successful comeback, and a successful comeback it is.

The Circle is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Spinout Nuggets.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Spinout 

New EP: Lauds || II

After their self-titled debut EP last summer, North Carolina 5-piece Lauds are back with a second 4-track EP, logically called II. James McKay Glasgow (guitars, lead vocals), J Holt Evans III (guitars, keyboards, vocals), Gavin Campbell (bass), Boyce Evans (keyboards, additional guitars), and Ross Page (drums) play melodic jangle pop with chiming guitar hooks and dreamy vocals, with a biting undertone that will also appeal to fans of noisy shoegaze. The lyrics of closing track Weekend clearly show what this band is about: “Hazy summer lines // What are we doing // The days are careening by // The old 9 to 5 // Who could invent a // Better way to waste a life?” – enchanting.

II is out now digitally via Fort Lowell Records. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Kid Chameleon || Tied Up In The Vines (III)

We wrote about Kid Chameleon before on our site. If he’s not yet on your radar, the prolific songwriter has just returned with his third record in 15 months under the Kid Chameleon moniker. I think it’s his best one yet.

Without exception, the songs on Tied Up In The Vines (III) are gorgeous guitar pop songs. Nice and jangly, none of these songs feel forced, overthought or overproduced. The melodies are stronger and more smooth than before. Perhaps I refer to Teenage Fanclub all to easily in my posts, but it makes too much sense not to. The roster of Meritorio Records also is a solid reference point. Really, this is an outstandig record and it’s special to witness a talented musician reaching his potential and achieving greatness.

Tied Up In The Vines (III) is out now on Bandcamp as a Name Your Price Download. I would love this record to get picked up and pressed on vinyl by a label, but for now make sure to bookmark this one for next Bandcamp Friday.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: U.S. Highball || A Parkhead Cross of The Mind

You need to hear just one song to know that U.S. Highball are firmly rooted in Scottish indie pop tradition. The band is a result of a 17-year old friendship between James Hindle and Calvin Halliday. The duo also played in The Pooches – remember their killer record from 2016?

U.S. Highball’s latest record, the band’s third, is called A Parkhead Cross Of The Mind. It’s a continuation of the duo’s search for writing perfect guitar pop songs. With just two members, it helps that they are on the same page in musical tastes. The record is full of references to their likes, including Yo La Tengo, Suicide, Neil Young, Fountains of Wayne and They Might Be Giants.

Sonically, U.S. Highball opted for a louder and punchier sound on A Parkhead Cross of The Mind, but it’s all relative. In its heart, the record is indie pop. If something does stand out, it’s the quality of the songs. The result of cutting a longlist of 40 written songs to 12.

A Parkhead Cross of The Mind is great Spring listening. It’s out now on Lame-O Records (US) and Bingo Records (UK).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Lame-O Records

New album: Un Día Soleado || “Y Todo Sigue Igual​.​.​.​”

Un Día Soleado from Argentina has released a lot of music recently and somehow, despiting enjoying all of the singles released, we failed to cover any of them. If you missed out on these releases, “Y Todo Sigue Igual​.​.​.​” compiles them in one handy (digital) record. The first six songs on the record are the 2021 singles. They are followed by three covers (of songs by Another Sunny Day, 1994 and Muziki Ammapola), and four live tracks.

What to expect? Surfy upbeat jangly goodness that is easy to digest. Healthy ear candy from Argentina!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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