New album: Secret Towns || Nightlights

Nightlights, the debut album from American indie rock four-piece Secret Towns, was released at the end of September. That we’re only writing about it now is because these are those songs that take a little more time to love. The seed was planted a few weeks ago, and thanks to the occasional attention, the 10 track collection has grown into a wantlist-worthy LP. Luke Thornton (vocals, guitar), Sam Pena (bass), Harry Dulaney (drums), and Matt Petino (lead guitar) play dreamy, jangling guitar pop with psychedelic and ambient post-punk elements, with lyrics about escaping moments from the past and present. In everything the music is aimed at listening at night, the hours that offer the excitement of the potential time ahead to the morning after. As the album begins: “It’s so still tonight // But I feel the rush so far ahead of me.” To end 40 minutes later with the last lines of the title track: “We won’t be the same // Leaving out of the scene // But before you leave // Leave a nightlight on for me.” According to the band, the album represents the idea of affection remaining with the people and places passing through time. Likely that you will be hypnotized if you look at moving city lights at the same moment.

Nightlights is out now digitally. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Mythical Motors || A Rare Look Ahead

When Robert Pollard looks in his rearview mirror it’s likely he will see Mythical Motors. Mythical Motors is a four-piece from Chattanooga, Tennessee and their latest release A Rare Look Ahead is the band’s 15th (!) album. The prolific songwriting and album releasing is not the only link between Mythical Motors and Guided By Voices. A chance encounter between Matt Addison and Brad Smith at the very first Robert Pollard solo show in 2006 led to the start of Mythical Motors. Mike Brown joined on bass soon after, and it took some line up changes before the band settled on Johnny Wingo as 2nd guitarist. Sonically, the gbv-fi is strong as well. A Rare Look Ahead has twenty (!) songs, and the indie rock of Mythical Motors is straightforward, up tempo and lo-fi.

And yet, in spite of all these similarities, it would be selling the band short to project them as mere copycats of GBV. In fact, the songs on A Rare Look Ahead harbor many influences, including The Clean, Wire, R.E.M, Superchunk, and the C-86 scene. The songs are short, and filled with hooks and poppy melodies. That pop sensibility has a strong ’80s vibe. Underground pop that is. Overall, the songs display more vulnerability than the typical GBV record.

If you are like me, by the end of the record you will be siked to take another trip alongside Mythical Motors. And yeah, I know, way too much motor vehicle references in this post. Sorry…But really, give this one a spin.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Wine Lips || Mushroom Death Sex Bummer Party

Wine Lips are a garage rock band from Toronto featuring Cam Hilborn (Guitar and Vocals), Aurora Evans (Drums), Jordan Sosensky (Guitar) and Charlie Weare (Bass). Their latest release features some of the coolest artwork i’ve seen lately, but their music is pretty sick as well. Wine Lips play a modern form of garage, psych and indie punk that sounds fresh yet familiar. Fans of Fidlar, Audacity, Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall should definitely take note of this record.

Most songs on Mushroom Death Sex Bummer Party are hyperactive, and soaked in buzzsaw guitars and shrieky vocals. But there are also welcome variations on that sound, such as Mall Walker, a song that is slower paced and has a lot of swagger. One of the most interesting songs on the record is the 7-minute trip Suffer The Joy. It’s like a jam session, but one that doesn’t lose focus, builds up tension and provides cathartic release.

When a band manages to capture the level of energy on tape as Wine Lips, I can only imagine how exciting these songs will be in a live setting. Mushroom Death Sex Bummer Party is out now on Stomp Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Stomp Records

New album: The Exbats || Now Where Were We

Last month, I read how music writers were already compiling their Album Of The Year lists. It was only September…crazy right? I guess that’s how it works if you are a serious music writer. The advantage of having your own outlet is that you don’t have to worry about deadlines and you can postpone working on year-end lists just a little longer. But my general inclination towards procrastination is not the main reason for waiting out on the AOTY list. It’s simply because there will always be late contenders entering the competition.

Now Where Were We by The Exbats is a primary example. The Exbats are daughter-father duo Inez & Kenny McLain on drums/vocals and guitar/vocals, and Bobby Carlson Jr. on bass. Now Where Were is the The Exbats third album. It is built on the same effective template as their previous albums: Scrappy and honest ’60s pop rounded out by influences from ’70s powerpop and punk, garage and bubblegum pop and blue-eyed soul. Kinda like The Mamas & The Papas x The Shangri-Las x The Archies x The Ramones. Though subtle, the music of The Exbats has steadily been evolving, and I don’t think the band has never sounded better. The songs on Now Where Were We have more depth, diversity and better harmonies than on their previous outings; The result of a more deliberate and more extensive period of songwriting. What hasn’t changed: The Exbats still sound insanely catchy, with memorable choruses you will sing along to in no time.

I have seldom exclaimed listening to my new favorite song by a band on their third album. I think it happened at least 3 or 4 times with Now Where Were We: Coolsville USA, Practice On Me, Best Kiss, and Hey New Zealand are all instant classics. Let me tell you, when one of the funnest bands of this era release their best work yet, you’d better create  some room to update your AOTY lists.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New EP: Wah Wah Wah || Oh, Wow!

Here are my notes on Oh Wow!, the debut release of Wah Wah Wah from Seoul in chronological order. One: there are a lot of cartoonesque exclamations in the bandname and album title. Two: This has a psychedelic King Gizzard vibe to it. Three: This is not bad at all. Four: Is that a flute? This is insane, but it’s pretty cool. Five: Is that a harmonica? What is going on here? Rock’n’roll! Six: This may not be the kind of music I usually go for, but I am intrigued. Seven: Wah Wah Wah deserves to be heard, I’m going to write about it.

Wah Wah Wah is an one man project by Suhyun Kim. Everything your hear on this EP, and that includes vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, bass, flute, synth and drum programming, is done by Kim. Except the harmonica, which Gunny Jojo Lee provides. Oh, Wow! is out now on the tiny South Korean label Good Boy Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Velvet Starlings || Technicolour Shakedown

Fans of the Teenage Shutdown! compilations should pay attention now. With their 60s infused garage rock ‘n’ roll, you could have found Californian four-piece Velvet Starlings on one of those great LPs, but that’s not the case, this is brand new music. The band was formed a few years ago by young lead singer, guitarist and organ player Christian Gisborne, and rounded out by Foster Poling (drums), Hudson Polling (bass), and Ashton Minnich (second guitar). You really should see these guys live, but due to the fact that they couldn’t tour during the lockdown, they recorded their new LP Technicolour Shakedown (although they already released an album in 2019, they see this one as their official debut, and there’s also already news about their next one, Pacific Standard Time, which you can expect Summer 2022). These ten tracks carry everything that makes the genre – fuzzy garage rock, flooded with a wave of psych – so enjoyable: a raucous sound to jump on and crowdsurf to, gritty vocals, and enthusiastic lyrics (from the title track: “It don’t matter now if you’re Beatles or Stones // Not the style of ya hair or your colorful clothes // All the kids are alright in the crowd down below // Louder their shoutin’ // Turn it up and turn it on”) . This is your new favorite band, enjoy!

Technicolour Shakedown is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP via Sound x3 Records, Symphonic Distribution, Golden Robot Records, and Kitten Robot Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Semihelix || Recoil

Austin, Texas singer/guitarist Geannie Friedman played in hardcore band Kite Flying Society, and in two pop bands Saving Twilight, The Weak Ends, and the Wonderers, before starting Semihelix. Initially it was a solo project, but now Kevin Martin (bass), and Valdemar Barrera (drums) are part of the lineup. The trio plays fuzzy dream psych pop with melodic yet loud sounds. Their full-length debut album Recoil is about resilience, love, depression, uplifting others, and bouncing back. I can imagine that the band members are gazing at their shoes one moment, and staring into nothingness the next, but in between look at you defiantly. The ten songs on this record are light and dark at the same time, mixing emotions, and enchanting you slowly but surely.

Recoil is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP via Mariel Recording Company. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: Daffodil Pill || Yup

The danger of making eclectic music is that it doesn’t make sense, because if you want to be everything, it can just turn out to be nothing. Polish four-piece hippie rock band Daffodil Pill know how to make it work. Filip Dudek (vocals, piano, percussion, special effects), Dawid Stawiarz (guitar), Mateusz Wróblewski (bass), Adam Chmura (drums, percussion, djembe) mix surf music with psychedelic acid trips, elements of progressive rock and a variety of other musical styles. The four tracks on their debut EP Yup, however, are an organic whole, with four tracks that are strongly constructed, intensely sung, with fascinating combinations of instruments. It’s a trip that lasts 18 minutes, a trip that is accessible but also exciting, surprising, compelling and funky. This certainly makes sense.

The Yup EP is out now digitally. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: The Smallgoods || Lost In The Woods

Good news: after almost ten years of radio silence, Melbourne four-piece The Smallgoods return with a new full-length album, Lost in the Woods. Not being able to find the way is in itself a good reason not to make music for a while, but luckily the wandering has provided fresh inspiration, because Lachlan Franklin, Gus Franklin, Ben Mason and Ben Donnan have written and recorded ten beautiful new melodies and lyrics. The song titles alone are appropriate and poetic at the same time: Where’ve You Been All This Time, On With the Show, Hurry Up & Slow Down, A Month of Sundays, Settle Down, etc. This is dreamy indie pop mixed with psych and folk rock influences, a wonderful autumn soundtrack. This comeback couldn’t be much stronger.

Lost in the Woods is out now digitally and on vinyl LP through Lost And Lonesome.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Joshua Powell || Skeleton Party

American singer / songwriter / multi-instrumentalist Joshua Powell celebrates a Skeleton Party on his new album, his first truly full band composition. That means that we have to introduce the band: next to Joshua Powell himself (vocals, guitars, synthesizers, programming, coins) they are Adam Shuntich (guitars, theremin, mutant koto, death star laser beam), Jacob Powell (drums, percussion, vocals ), and Josh Townsend (bass, programming) – each band member has songwriter credits. Their psychedelic / progressive indie rock music is no easy feat – layered in instruments, versatile in styles, kaleidoscopic in lyrics – and an Auto-Tune-esque experiment even somewhat disturbing, but that there’s so much to hear is also fascinating and intriguing. Anyway, listening to these eight songs – 46 minutes – is an impressive journey, a hallucinatory experience, and especially the guitar playing is great. As Powell warns in standout track Sad Boy at the Skeleton Party: “I can’t protect your delicate sensibilities // It happens how it happens when you get into it with me.” It will depend on your taste: are you joining this party or not?

Stream the full album below.

Skeleton Party is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Romanus Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Romanus Records

Scroll to Top