Jangle Pop

New album: Salt Lake Alley || It Takes Two

Swedish “orthodox indie pop” duo Salt Lake Alley is back with their second full-length album, It Takes Two, and it’s another highlight in the rich C86 tradition. Gustav Tranback (Paper Hearts, Dismal Plight) and Mikael Carlsson (The Honeydrips, Dorotea) combine 12-string guitars with 80’s drum machines and vocal harmonies, and they do it well, but above all they know how to write wonderful twee pop songs. Here you can hear eleven of those sympathetic jangly guitar gems that let the springtime sun shine from your speakers.

It Takes Two is out now digitally and on vinyl LP through Shelflife Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New single: Bad Spring || Tape 1

Awesome new band alert! From Fresno, California straight to our hearts comes Bad Spring. If you like angsty college rock, dreamy powerpop, or rockin’ ’90s altpop, this should be on the top of your listening pile right now.

The biggest appeal of the two songs on Bad Spring’s debut single? The contrast between the heavy yet strummy and jangly guitars (so good!) and the dreamy Teenage Fanclubesque vocals and harmonies.

Bad Spring has arrived and I’m all in! Tape 1 is out now (on tape of course) on Forever Never Ends Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Forever Never Ends

New album: Patches || Tales We Heard From the Fields

Last year The Laughing Chimes ended up high in our year-end lists with their debut LP In This Town. Evan Seurkamp (vocals, guitars), one of the brothers of the jangle pop duo, has also started the project Patches – along with RKC (bass, backing vocals), and Aaron Griffin (guitar, percussion). The three band members wrote and recorded all songs in their various bedrooms in Austin, Texas, and they switched instrumental duties from track to track. On their first album Tales We Heard From the Fields you hear a fuller, noisier and more experimental sound than that of the Chimes – the listener has to put in a little more effort to comprehend what’s happening – but it’s also quite exciting with strong melodies. As they say themselves: “Sometimes it jangles, sometimes it fizzes, sometimes it whooshes.” They sing about close subjects – Canaries, Wet Cement, The Back of the Cupboard, Plastic and Gold, etc. – within the theme of the album title and matching the band name. The 14 original songs echo the dark ’80s, but bring light into 2022.

Tales We Heard From the Fields is out now digitally. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: English Summer || Holding Against Our Own

English Summer is the jangle pop solo project of Australian(!) singer-songwriter Caleb Carr. He just released his second EP, which is profoundly titled Holding Against Our Own, but is actually quite uplifting. Standout track An English Summer’s Day shows that you should make the most of it (how beautiful: “When I see clouds; I smile // But when I hear rain; I see you”), and the same message applies to the title track, which in turn is a follow up to closer Kris. With the two instrumental songs, Last September and Celebration, you can make up your own story, and there the guitar jangles out the most captivating melodies.

Holding Against Our Own is out now digitally. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: No Monster Club || Deadbeat Effervescent

Time for some new music that is quirky and puts a bigger smile on my face with each play. Deadbeat Effervescent is the seventh (I think) full length by Irish three piece No Monster Club. It’s a delightful mess of styles and sounds that’s hard to pinpoint.

In a way the record reminds of me of Architecture In Helsinki’s In Case We Die. It has that same energy and varied instrumentation. Other mid 00’s bands come to mind as well, like The Spinto Band and The Boy Least Likely To. But No Monster Club is more bubblegummy, more glammy and more garagy, I believe. Or like the press release describes it: “At times on this LP, No Monster Club come across like the improbable missing link between ABBA and Daniel Johnston.”

You see, this record is kinda weird and that’s what makes it so much fun. Songs like Waterfight!, Black & White, Case By Case Basis and Save The Circus are here to brighten your mood any time, all the time. Deadbeat Effervescent is out now on Emotional Response.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Emotional Response

New single: The Photocopies || I Don’t Want You To Want Me / M B V

Since we compile a monthly overview with the best covers, I keep my eyes and ears open not to miss out on alternative versions. When I came across The Photocopies on Bandcamp, based on the band name I expected it to be a cover band (the rudimentary cover art and videos are appropriate but reveal little) – a wrong assumption. Nevertheless, it’s a nice discovery, probably even a better one because they write original songs. The Michigan-based band (originally from London) plays some very nice music that will appeal to fans of jangly C86 / twee pop – catchy tunes with lyrics that you can sing along in no time. Actually, all the songs they’ve released in the last year and a half could be hits (perhaps the 47 seconds that Radio City lasts is the most fun I’ve heard this week), hopefully these will be collected on a vinyl LP someday. But first there’s a new (digital) single, with the uplifting earworm I Don’t Want You To Want Me on the A side, with simple, repeating lyrics, very enjoyable. B-side M B V, a tribute to My Bloody Valentine, shows that the musicians can also produce a rough, fuzzy sound. If I could sing myself, I’d cover it.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Partner Look || By The Book

The cover photo shows four fresh young adults, dressed in casual clothes in baby blue and baby pink, against a pink background. What kind of music do you expect? I assume that this concept has been well thought out, and that it should evoke a kind of art pop (or pop art) feeling, which is not very far from how it sounds. Pictured is Melbourne-based  supergroup Partner Look, featuring German sisters Ambrin (we know her from Cool Sounds) and Anila Hasnain (Studio Magic), and their partners Dainis Lacey (Cool Sounds) and Lachlan Denton (The Ocean Party). Their friendly blue/pink image graces the cover of their debut album By The Book, on which you hear 12 very enjoyable indie pop tracks, which I personally associate more with the color yellow. They are sophisticated, jangly songs with the occasional surprisingly sharp edge, that make you long for spring.

Partnerlook turns out to be a German expression referring to two people wearing similar or matching outfits, but it is an interpretation that could just have more meanings, a feeling that the band also wants to evoke with their songwriting by playing with where we differ and where we, as humans are inherently similar. That’s pretty arty, isn’t it?

By The Book is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Spunk/Osbourne Again (in AU/NZ) and  Trouble In Mind Records (elsewhere). RIYL Emma Russack, Phosphorescent, Kurt Vile.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New album: Parker Sprout || Milk In The Sun

Twelve years ago Parker Sprout’s band Velvet Davenport * was among the first artists signed to Portland psych label Moon Glyph. Sprout now returns to the label as a solo artist with Milk In The Sun, a record filled with jangly and dreamy indie rock, psych pop and hazy shoegaze. All songs are pretty much lo-fi and sequenced with some weird samples and soundscapes in between.

Milk In The Sun is an intriguing record. In a good way, I mean. Although most of the songs are really short, there is quite a lot of repetition within songs, which rather than annoy has a memsmerizing effect on me. It’s kind of weird and slightly offbeat, but I like it. If you like the recent records by Semi-Trucks and Sad Eyed Beatniks, you should definitely check this one out. Out now on cassette at Moon Glyph.

* One of the perks of discovering a new artist: finding out there are all kinds of gems in the back catalogue. First time I heard about Velvet Davenport  and I immediately added their Warmy Girls record to my wantlist.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New Album: Sad Eyed Beatniks || Claudia’s Ethereal Weaver

A large portion of the best underground pop releases from last year came from the Bay Area. If the new Sad Eyed Beatniks record is any indication, 2022 is destined to continue that trend.

Sad Eyed Beatniks is the musical project of Kevin Linn, who lives by the three C’s: Cats, Collages and Cassettes. The latter two C’s are an intricate part of Linn’s DIY label Paisley Shirt Records.

If there was any cohesive backstory to his sixth (!) Sad Eyes Beatniks record Claudia’s Ethereal Weaver, it would be Linn’s past year and a half “flipping through old Life and National Geographic magazines, taking long walks through San Francisco.” And sure, Claudia’s Ethereal Weaver seems tailor made for taking strolls. With its lo-fi production and jangly and messy sound, it’s a record full of understated gems that constantly push and pull at your attention strings. It’s also a record decidedly out of time and space, very much its own thing, but with enough pop catchiness to become infatuated.

If I’m not mistaken, thanks to Meritorio Records, Claudia’s Ethereal Weaver is the first Sad Eyed Beatniks record to be released on vinyl. That makes perfect sense, because it’s the best SEB record yet.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Meritorio Records

New album: Green/Blue || Offering

Green/Blue made some waves with their self-titled debut in 2020. This week, the band dropped the follow-up called Offering. It’s a must hear if you like music that doesn’t suck.

Green/Blue consists of three veterans of the Minneapolis underground scene: Jim Blaha (Blind Shake/Shadow In The Cracks), Annie Sparrows (Soviettes/Awesome Snakes), and Dan Henry (Sgt 6 Assault/Dummies/France Has The Bomb). Green/Blue finds synergy between their sound and their art direction. Both are collages, a mixture of different styles where the look and sound of its parts may sound familiar, but the whole becomes its own new (and improved) thing. In the case of Green/Blue’s music there are parts of lo-fi jangle, gbv-fi, post punk, garage rock and a whole lot more. It’s hard to pinpoint any of the songs on Offering to a specific period or genre. All I know is that I’m blown away by this record.

Offering is a beast of a record. It is both subdued and exuberant, both complex and accessible, both instantly likeable and a grower. I am definitely buying this. Offering is out now on Hozac Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

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