New album: Star Party || Meadow Flower

On their debut LP Meadow Flower, Star Party (Seattle) are a bit like a chef trying to find the perfect balance between sweet and sour. The sweet voice of Carolyn Brennan juxtaposes nicely with the tsunami of loud buzzsaw noises produced by Ian Corrigan (Gen Pop, Vexx), and the whole sounds better than the sum of its parts.

Call it hardcore twee, c-86 punk or whatever you like, Meadow Flower is a record to cherish. It invites you to study its ancestry. You’ll find traces of psychedelic rock, garage, ’60s girl group, (post)punk and ’80s underground pop. A more recent reference point is UV-TV’s 2017 record Glass. That band became more pop oriented on subsequent records, and I’m curious what the trajectory of Star Party will be. But until then, I will be plugging this record to all my friends.

Meadow Flower is out now. LP available through Feel It Records (US) and Tough Love (UK).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs 

New album: Subterfuge || Dots.

Good news for fans of perfect pop/rock songs with jangly guitars and vocal harmonies: Subterfuge is back! The 6-piece indie pop band from Düsseldorf, Germany, has been around for 30 years, but released their last LP in 2005. With Dots., their new (5th) full-length album, they show that they still know their stuff. Reportedly, we should consider the 12 new songs as a biography: “Just real life turned into music.” Their lyrics about life-as-it-is are tragicomic (“There’s something you said // Before I grow old // I’d rather be dead // When we were young // Your hair was long // Now that it’s gone // You look like Right Said Fred” – from Stephanie Said), the music is melancholic (the sound has its origins in the psychedelic 60’s, but with more modern influences from college rock, shoegaze and jangle pop), and their Super8 style videos are highly entertaining. “Why do I always fail to win?” they wonder in one of the standout tracks. We can safely say that the tide has turned, because this new work is definitely a winner.

Dots. is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Less Records, distributed by Cargo Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Less Records

New album: Alien Lizard || Lucid Dream Machine

You don’t necessarily have to understand psychedelic music, you just have to experience it. That certainly applies to the sound (and cover art) of the two Polish brothers that make-up Alien Lizard. Their new full-length album, with the telling title Lucid Dream Machine, contains nine hazy songs with poetic lyrics and excerpts from the works of Ignacio Manuel Altamirano, Rosalía de Castro, Philip K. Dick, Léon Dierx, Adam Mickiewicz, Edgar Allan Poe , and Kurt Vonnegut. Cosmic experiments to immerse yourself in. I asked the band how their work came about: “Each of these songs was recorded right after waking in order to explore the liminal space between dreaming and reality through a black mirror. With all the insanity happening right now, I guess we just hope this album can provide a short reprieve.” And so it is. We all could use a Lucid Dream Machine right now.

“I think I know what I’m thinking // I think I saw it in my feed”

“Fly with no wings // Fly out of sync”

Lucid Dream Machine is out now digitally. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Le Muffe || Down Down Down

Psychedelic garage punk is also possible without guitars, as Italian trio Le Muffe once again proves. Their third full-length album Down, Down, Down features 10 new songs with that distinctive sound: an omnipresent acid organ, a pulsing nervous bass, pounding aggressive drums, and intriguing theatrical vocals. Thanks to that sound in combination with lyrics in Italian (partly English), scream-along choruses, swinging melodies, and smart tempo changes, this is an LP that is unlike any other. Fans of Archie and the Bunkers will certainly enjoy it, but anyone who likes garage, beat or punk can blast this guitar-less music out of their speakers to be positively surprised.

Down Down Down is out now digitally and on vinyl LP through Area Pirata Records / Pigme Records.

Add to wantlist: Area Pirata || Bandcamp || Discogs

New album: The Total Rejection || Off The Top Of Our Heads.​.​.​And Other Forbidden Pleasures

The UK garage-psych rockers of The Total Rejection are back with their 4th studio album, Off The Top Of Our Heads .​.​.​And Other Forbidden Pleasures, and here they took a step forward. We hear 10 new and wild killer tracks that pick up where the Pebbles compilations left off, featuring driving rhythms, screeching guitar riffs and Arthur Andrew Jarrett’s signature vocals that you either love or hate. The band themselves say they wanted to keep it quite raw and edgy, and push things slightly, and they succeeded very well. The songs are better structured and even catchier than before. This is an addictive record that slowly but surely makes you hallucinate, and that’s a great achievement.

Off The Top Of Our Heads .​.​.​And Other Forbidden Pleasures is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Raving Pop Blast! Recordings.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New album: The Lost Noise Figure || Alive

Please meet The Lost Noise Figure, all the way from Thessaloniki, Greece, because good music knows no boundaries. On their full-length debut album Alive, George Kiriakidis (bass, vocals), Mary Jane (vocals), and Tolis Michalopoulos (guitars, synths, drums) manage to forge influences from garage rock, psych, and shoegaze into a mesmerizing vintage sound. It’s a fuzzed-out soundtrack – 10 songs, 40 minutes – with an effective primitive drum beat, striking guitar hiccups, hypnotic organ melodies, and reverberating vocals. One moment you have to think of Night Beats or The Black Angels, the next moment of Thee Oh Sees, at times also of The White Stripes or The Limiñanas. Bewitching, fascinating, and cool.

Alive is out now digitally. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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

Music Year-End List || Niek’s Favorite Singles and EP’s of 2021

Our last 2021 wrap-up list showcases my favorite singles and EPs of 2021. ICYMI, Dennis posted his short format favs last week. Previously, we posted our Album top 50s here and here.

For me, 2021 had an abundance of great music to offer, and I believe this applies to singles and EPs as well. To avoid decision anxiety, I’ve listed them alphabetically. I’ve excluded some killer EPs and singles because (some of the) songs would later appear on the artists’  full lengths.

Enjoy reading and listening. See you all next year! If you’re looking for a convenient playlist of most (43 of 50) of the songs, check here. [post continues below]

Alvilda || Négatif 
Alvilda, a jangly powerpop sensation from Paris, mix ’60s girl group with ’70s Good Vibrations pop punk influences and je t’aime it a lot.

Music Year-End List || Dennis’ Favorite Singles and EP’s of 2021

You’ve already seen our lists with favorite albums – here‘s Niek’s list and there‘s mine – but also many shorter format releases were wantlist worthy. Below you can listen to an overview of the Top 50 singles and EPs that I thought were the best from 2021. I’ve excluded releases with songs that also appear on my album list. Links point to Discogs or Bandcamp (the headings), and to previously posted reviews (in the body text) – add to your wantlist (or collection) what you like!

1. Noah C Lekas || Sounds From The Shadow Factory
[Beat Poetry, US || Blind Owl] To be honest I haven’t been able to give this one as much attention as I would have liked. Not only because I mainly spent my time on full-length albums, but also for practical reasons: only two songs are shared on Bandcamp, YouTube, Soundcloud and Spotify, and unfortunately a physical copy wasn’t available in Europe (and sold out quickly in the US). Still, I didn’t doubt for a moment whether this should be at the top, simply because this was the most impressive release of the past year in all respects. Poems and rock music form a great combination here: “It’s jazz for the mind // It’s blues for the soul.” It’s Art!

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