Power Pop

New album: Limoges || Milan Shakes, Turin Shocks

It’s always informative to see which song a band picks as the default song on their Bandcamp release page. In a world of limited attention, time and effort, you’d best make a good first impression. Italian pop punks Limoges could’ve probably picked any song of their new LP Milan Shakes, Turin Shocks, but they picked the absolute best. The Girl I’ll Meet Yesterday may have a title that is grammatically off or technically impossible, but it’s an instant classic in the pop punk canon. It’s the kind of song that will kickstart your heart, especially if you grew up on a steady diet of Mutant Pop, Lookout!, and/or Stardumb Records.

The song also is a gateway to the remainder of the record. I particularly like the middle part of the record with its 1-2-3 punch of Late Night Giaveno’s Perspective, Little Kid From Lucania, and Milan State of Mind. I also love the 80 second appropriately title album closer This Sounds Like The End. Limoges are decidely old school, seemingly unworried about what is hip or cool or happening. They are all about the melodies and the songs, and it shows.

Milan Shakes, Turin Shocks is pop punk bliss. Out now on Hey Pizza! Records (LP), Memorable But Not Honorable (Tape) and Slack (CD).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Hey Pizza! Records

New album: 1-800-Mikey || Plushy

Last time we checked in with 1-800-Mikey (aka Sydney-based Michael Barker), he just dropped a fun self-titled EP. The four songs of that EP and nine new tracks together make up 1-800-Mikey’s debut LP Plushy. Barker wrote and recorded all of the songs in the pandemic years, helped out by Kel Mason and Tee Vee Repairmann who picked up their drumsticks on some of these songs.

Plushy builds on the songs of the 2020 EP. Expect lo-fi garagepop that is punky, synthy and super catchy. It’s about guaranteed that 1-800-Mikey will make you bop your head and shake your ass. The record is only 20 minutes long, but feels even shorter. Time flies when you’re having fun, huh?

Physical release expected June 1 in September through Erste Theke Tontraeger (EU) and Under The Gun (USA). Fans of Jacuzzi Boys, Mean Jeans, and Radioactivity should take note.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Erste Theke Tontraeger

New album: Televisionaries || Mad About You

Rock-‘n’-roll dance party starting in 1-2-3-4.

We’ve been looking forward to Televisionaries’ debut LP for quite some time, and that anticipation increased even more once we did a Gimme 5 feature with one of its members (Trevor Lake). Televisionaries (Rochester, NY) are three Lake brothers (Austin, Brendan, and Trevor) backed up by their buddy Aaron Mika on drums. Although they grew up as skateboarding punk kids, they quickly developed a taste for surf music and other early rock-‘n’-roll styles and an obsession with NRBQ, Nick Lowe & The Kinks.

Ultimately, those combined influences have lead to their debut LP Mad About You. It is an absolute blast and a time portal to the dancehalls of the ’50s and ’60s. There is a pureness to the songs on Mad About you, and at no time the old timey surfrock-‘n’-roll of Televisionaries feels inauthentic or filled with faux romanticism. Here’s a band that is not faking it, but using their talents to communicate their love for great rock-‘n’-roll and pop music.

On the dance floor, Televisionaries will challenge you to keep up with the pace of some of their songs (listen to the title track, Ultimatum and Annie), but also offer a swooner in Satisfaction Guaranteed. In between, Televisionaries aim for pop perfection, and with songs like Girls and Over And Out they succeed or, at the very least, come eerily close. Never does the record become too sappy or sugary. Instead, the band is unafraid to give their songs some welcome bite.

The Lake brothers and Aaron Mika sound in perfect harmony on Mad About You. It’s a must own and out now through Nutone Records (a division of Hi-Tide Recordings).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New single: Gentlemen Rogues || Francy b/w I’ve Got A Match

Coolest song in the world (and ATW’s best singles of 2020) alumns Gentlemen Rogues (Austin, Texas) return with a brand new two song single. Gentlemen Rogues is a band that follow a formula to succes that can be summed up with the two letters P & Q. They take Quality over Quantity, and their Powerpop is Poised, Precise, Pure and Persuasive.

The band display the robustness of that formula on their new single. The band’s sound on both songs is huge, with powerful and crisp sounding guitars that are an accumulation of rock history. Francy is destined to become another Coolest song in the world (or year perhaps?). It’s a kickass rocker of a track. Flipside I’ve Got A Match, which has the heart and soul of vintage Fountains Of Wayne, quickly won me over as well.

There is only one thing I don’t like about this release: it’s not a full length. Seriously, we need more Gentlemen Rogues and we need it fast! Out now through Snappy Little Numbers, who pressed 200 on black, and 50 on supersweet looking tri-colored vinyl. Want!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp 

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: The Chelsea Curve || All The Things

All The Things marks the debut LP of Chelsea Curve. We live in 2022, but it’s hard to place the record or the band in a specific era. The trio (Linda Pardee, Tim Gillis, and Ron Belanger) take the best parts of powerpop, punk, mod, rock-’n’-soul and everything in between to create something that sounds fresh yet familiar and fully conceived. Kinda like The Muffs took on Elvis Costello as an additional member.

What stands out most in these songs, two third’s of which were released as a steady stream of singles last year, is the sheer quality of the melodies. The Chelsea Curve are dropping hooks like there is no tomorrow. Throughout the record, The Chelsea Curve maintain a high standard and the occasional inclusion of key and horn parts give the record just that little bit extra.

With All The Things, The Chelsea Curve are here to make rock-‘n’-roll hearts beat faster. It’s out now through Red On Red.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Afterpartees || Family Names

Niek (vocals), Teun (drums), Jesse (bass), Sjors (guitar), and Bas (guitar) spent three weeks in a cabin in the woods of their hometown Horst, Limburg (The Netherlands), where they recorded the third Afterpartees album on a diet of soup and biscuits. Family Names features 11 captivating songs about the impossible things in life, like carnival parades that never end and visiting your favorite pub forever. Musically, it’s a combination of uplifting power pop and smart indie rock, which will appeal to fans of Vampire Weekend, Jonathan Richman, and Mozes and the Firstborn. The tracks are always melodic, with well chosen tempo changes, catchy hooks, and surprising contributions (for example in The Buun, a sentimental farewell to the band’s favorite bar, you hear a cello and saxophone), and evoke both a feeling of sensitive melancholy and of summery joyfulness. This LP is a sympathetic ode to togetherness, friendship and food, an ode to cherish for all fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters.

Family Names is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through AT EASE / Goomah Music.

Add to wantlist: AT EASE || Bandcamp

New album: Ex-Vöid || Bigger Than Before

If there was one record I’ve been looking forward to for a long time, it’s the debut of Ex-Vöid. I was a massive fan of Joanna Gruesome, and the fingerprints of that band all over Ex-Vöid. And I mean that literally: the two primary songwriters and singers of Joanna Gruesome (Lan McArdle and Owen Williams) are also in Ex-Vöid taking a similar approach. The trademark dual boy-girl vocal attack of Joanna Gruesome is omnipresent on Ex-Vöid’s debut LP. The pair also brought a smorgasbord of hooks. Any doubt that they used all those up in the megacatchy songs of Joanna Gruesome dissolves in album opener Churchyard – I love every second of that song.

Hence, the likelihood between liking one if you like the other is close to 100%. Still, as the album title seem to imply, I can see Ex-Vöid ultimately ending up with a wider audience with the new band. It would be the logical consequence of a broader and more varied sound. McArdle and Williams sound as punchy and energetic as they did with Joanna Gruesome – listen to the punked up Chemical Reaction with its sugary sweet chorus for example, but they are more in control of their powers, and unafraid to open the windows and breathe some fresh air and space in the songs. There are also hints of The Beths, and I believe some of the songs on Bigger Than Before (particularly (Angry At You) Baby, Boyfriend, So Neurotic) rival the best work of that band.

Like the band explains, they “draw on guitar pop through the ages – The Byrds, Big Star, Teenage Fanclub – and attack it with the ferocity and economy of a hardcore punk band.” Call it altpoppunk if you will. Summer festivals with room to spare on their bill, would be crazy not to book this band.

Bigger Than Before is hit packed and ready to make many rounds on your turntable this year. It’s out now on Don Giovanni Records (US) and Prefect Records (UK).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Prefect Records || Discogs

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 EP: Cheese Wreck || Cheese Wreck EP

I’d like to introduce you to a new trio from Pennsylvania. They are called Cheese Wreck and feature members of Brick Nova. Brick Nova played the kind of music that would have made it to the soundtrack of The O.C. back in the day. But with Cheese Wreck, the three-piece show their love for pop punk that is bubblegummy and surfy.

The three originals on the EP are sweet and catchy – Danse Macabre sounds like a reworked version of Rockaway Beach. To close the EP there is a Goo Goo Dolls cover. Solid and fun stuff to start the weekend with!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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