Power Pop

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: Classic Traffic || Classic Traffic

You know what is even better than discovering a great new band? That band dropping their debut full-length just one week later. The best part though? The 8-song 24 minute effort fully living up to the expectations.

Classic Traffic (New Jersey) finds its origins in Puddle Splasher and features Andy Altadonna (Guitar, Bass, Vocals) & Dante Fotino (Drums, Lyrics). I compared Classic Traffic to The Lemonheads, Nirvana, Nada Surf and The Replacements in my previous post on the band. That was based on the first two songs I heard, both of which are included on the full album. Now that I’ve heard the whole thing, Lemonheads and Nada Surf particularly still come to mind – listen to True Blue for example. I would add Teenage Fanclub to the list based solely on the enchanting Ten Minute Window. Classic Traffic combines a strong sense of melody with a joy for rocking out.

Written and recorded in just a couple of weeks to take advantage of Guitar Center’s return policy, Classic Traffic is a smooth ride with few detours and zero blockages.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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 EP: Class || Class EP

Is nowthatsclass dot bandcamp dot com the best spot to start your week at? Yes! It has my favorite short format release of late. It’s by a band from Tucson (Arizona) called Class featuring members of Rik And The Pigs, The Resonars, Brown Sugar and The Green Teas.

The magic formula that makes Class’ sound on their 5-song self-titled debut EP so great? Equal doses of ’70s rock, powerpop and punk. More specifically, Class mix ’70s NYC punk attitude with the musicianship and sense of melody of Big Star. It’s really something special, and if you’d told me that the Class EP is actually a lost classic from the ’70s I’d believe you. Into The Night and Oh! The Nerve are particularly catchy, but a major strength of Class is that none of their songs are alike, and all of them are interesting.

The cassette is already sold out (Revolver, Sorry State, and Torn Light may have a couple left), but supposedly a 12″ 45rpm LP is coming out later this year through Feel It Records. It should come with a sticker warning that this may very well be your new favorite band.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New single: Classic Traffic || Solo Show / I Am A Dream

Well hello Classic Traffic. Where did you come from all of a sudden? Do you mind if I place you on the top of my bands-to-watch list?

Classic Traffic is a band of two from New Jersey featuring Puddle Splasher‘s Andy Altadonna (Guitar, Bass, Vocals) & Dante Fotino (Drums, Lyrics). If you like The Lemonheads, Nirvana, Nada Surf and The Replacements, I’m pretty sure that this band gets you as excited as I am. Hopefully a taste of things to come.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: Your Pest Band || Reflecting Board

We almost exclusively cover new releases on our site. But still, I can appreciate how Dead Broke Rekerds every now and then places the spotlight on previously released work that they feel has been criminally overlooked. It’s how I discovered this great EP by Outpatient. And here’s a recent reissue I am grateful for: Reflecting Board, a mini album Japanese veterans Your Pest Band released in 2021.

Reflecting Board features 7 tracks that takes influences from ’70s classic rock and ’80s punk, which combined sound like a mix of early ’80’s powerpop and The Replacements. Classic songs from a veteran band in full possession of their songwriting chops and, I fully agree with Dead Broke Rekerds, far too good to pass up.

Reflecting Board is out now on 12″ vinyl. The artwork is kinda ugly, but the tunes are kinda awesome.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: Los Recuerdos || Entre Macca Y Juan Gabriel

There is no shortage of solid powerpop and rock-‘n’-roll bands from Spain, and Los Recuerdos is one of my favorite new ones. The band’s second EP is out now and it’s called Entre Macca Y Juan Gabriel. The title is a nod to the wide range of influences of the band, including Paul “Macca” McCartney and Juan Gabriel. But despite their many likes, the sonic aim of Los Recuerdos ultimately seems straightforward and, if you’d ask me, in exactly the right direction.

That direction? Uptempo jangly powerpop, which Los Recuerdos have further tightened and polished on these four new tracks. On EP standout Una Idea Genial they incorporate some very welcome Undertonesque pop punk vibes. Últimos de Julio is another excellent track showcasing the band’s talent for writing strong and contagious melodies.

Curious to see if Los Recuerdos are ready to graduate from the EP format to a full length. I think they may very well be!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Puhelinseksi || Vieraita Toisillemme

Puhelinseksi are a band of four from Rovaniemi, a city in Finland locate slightly below the arctic circle. The light can get a bit weird there, and perhaps this helps to explain the dark and melancholic undertones in Puhelinseksi’s brand of punky and melodic powerpop. Their sophomore record is called Vieraita Toisillemme, and the nine songs on it range from pretty good to pretty great. I am particularly drawn by the band’s killer choruses and the new wavey guitar work. Without understanding the lyrics, the emotion in the voice of Puhelinski’s frontwoman hints upon the dark themes in the lyrics (loneliness, alienation, mental health problems and broken hearts). This heartfelt honest voice is complemented nicely by the strong melodies in Puhelinseksi’s music.

Good stuff again from Svart Records. Vieraita Toisillemme is available on CD and on black and purple vinyl.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Svart Records

New EP: The Girls || Tea Party

Following up their 2021 mini-LP Armed To The Teeth, The Girls (Wilmington, North Carolina) return with another hard-to-google release; the 5-song Tea Party EP. The EP offers more of the hard poppin’ rock-‘n’-roll sleaze I’ve come to love about this band – the band has ’77 in their social media user name and on their Bandcamp page, which should give you an idea of their sound.

Recently, the band made the soundtrack of Netflix original Along For The Ride with their standout song Schools For Fools. That likely will have brought some new pairs of ears to The Girls, and the Tea Party EP makes good on the promise of that song. My favorite track on the Tea Party EP is Love Song. That chorus is massive! Make sure to also check The Girls’ version of Primal Astrology by Zodiac Panthers.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: Supercrush || Melody Maker

The five songs on Supercrush’s EP Melody Maker were lying on a shelf since 2019, but they may just as well have their origins in the ’90s. This is the kind of punchy altpop that will be gobbled up by fans of It’s A Shame About Ray, Bandwagonesque and Girlfriend.

The songs were recorded in the same sessions as their 2020 debut LP, which makes me wonder why these songs were excluded from that one. They are far from throwaways, and I like to make the case that songs like Perfect Smile, Trophy and Melody Maker actually would have improved Supercrush’s already very likeable Soda Pop LP.

Melody Maker is out now on 12″ through a bunch of labels: Debt Offensive – who are on a roll lately with releases by Motorists and Night Court, Don Giovanni & KR Records (US), Erste Theke Tonträger (Europe), and Flake Records (Japan).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

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