New album: Shop Regulars || Shop Regulars

Among the many releases this week, one that stood out to me is Shop Regulars’ first LP. This self-titled album arrives after seven self-released cassettes, and while it only has six songs, its total playing time justifies an LP release. The album is masterminded by Matt Radosevich (formerly of Honey Bucket), who leads the band and collaborates with a rotating cast of like-minded artists to bring his ideas to life.

There is a lot of repetition on this album, and while that might not be for everyone, there is something special about Shop Regulars. They are noisy and highly experimental, with creativity flowing freely—not unlike one extended jam session, but one that even people who hate jam sessions can appreciate. Case in point: they put an 11-minute song on the record, and I managed to reach the end without triggering my short attention span anxiety.

If you’re looking for something different and unique, Shop Regulars may very well be your next craze.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: Big Life || If You Like Bad Ideas, It’s a Very Exciting Time

Big Life consists of Dan Nixon on vocals, Ryan Allen (Extra Arms) on guitar and backing vocals, Sean Gauvreau (Grey Gardens/ex-Black Dahlia Murder) on bass and backing vocals, and Jordan Vonzynda (member of Hidebehind/ex-Due North) on drums. Their second EP If You Like Bad Ideas, It’s a Very Exciting Time is out today on Setterwind Records.

Sonically, Big Life firmly plants one foot in the ’80s Dischord Records roster, echoing the sounds of Dag Nasty, Rites of Spring, and Embrace. If, like me, you’re into these bands, it’s thrilling to see Big Life keeping that torch alive. While their 2023 debut EP felt more like a tribute to their influences, the new 6-song EP showcases a band that has truly found its own sound.

Lyrically, Big Life doesn’t hide their 21st-century identity. The title itself, If You Like Bad Ideas, It’s a Very Exciting Time, is spot-on. Thematically, the first two songs deal with a desire for change and making a positive impact, yet falling short. The line “I’ve got a NPR tote bag man, to show how much I care,” definitely got a smile out of me. The second half of the EP critiques our “growth-at-all-costs, rot economy underneath the brilliant future that tech billionaires are trying to sell us.” Whatever your thoughts on today’s society, political climate, and the state of the planet, the ground for the emergence of socially conscious punk and hardcore bands is as fertile as it ever was, and Big Life is stepping up in a big way.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Casual Technicians || Casual Technicians

Where to start with explaining a record as diverse and ambitious as Casual Technicians’ self-titled debut LP? Perhaps with the creators Tyler Keene (And And And, Log Across the Washer), Boone Howard (The We Shared Milk and the Boone Howard band), and Nathan Baumgartner (And And And)? Three songwriters, three different voices, one piece of the puzzle found. Second piece, they wrote and recorded the 19 songs at Howard’s Chittenango, NY farm, “surrounded by turkeys and sheep and beautiful upstate scenery.” Perhaps this explains the dazzling display of creativity?

I could go on analyzing this record like this, but we’re not Pitchfork, and honestly I lack the words and understanding of what the hell is going on, and what makes this record so special. Smile-era Beach Boys and the early Elephant 6 discography are some of the reference points provided for this LP and they make sense. But do they suffice? I think I’ll leave you with some of the mental notes that I made while listening.

* This opening track is amazing.
* Wait what, how many singers does this band have?
* Is this still the same band? Checks whether Shuffle function has been automatically switched on again.
* Not sure I like this one.
* Where is this record heading towards?
* Checks whether Shuffle function has been automatically switched on.
* This is the best Sufjan Stevens song I’ve heard in ages.
* Love that nineteen second instrumental!
* Checks whether this is still the same album. What? 19 songs?! 47 minute playing time?
* Feeling proud for not having skipped any of the songs yet.
* This one’s pretty special.
* Checks whether Shuffle function has been automatically switched on.
* Damn these dudes are talented.
* Should let Dennis know I am going to write about this record.
* How am I going to write about this record?
* Let me check that first track again.

Casual Technicians is out now on Tape at Repeating Cloud Records. It’s an underground gem.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Classic Traffic || Turn It Up

This week, Classic Traffic (New Jersey; members of Puddle Splasher) released Turn It Up, their third full length in three years – see our posts on the previous records here and there. The band plays guitar driven indie rock built on a foundation of ’90s alt pop/alt rock, and they would’ve also be a great fit in the ’90s geek rock scene.

If you’re looking for some fresh two-minute rock tunes in the vein of Weezer, Nada Surf and, more recently, Supercrush, give Turn It Up a chance. I think you’ll like it.

Turn It Up is out now through Dogmeat Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: Sorry Darling || See This Through

See This Through is the debut EP from Brooklyn quartet Sorry Darling. The band plays alt pop infused indie rock with a solid balance between jangly and palm muted guitars. The dual and alternating vocals between the band’s songwriters Stephen Bailey and Liz Wagner Biro are another selling point of the band.

There is plenty more to like about this record though, and songs like In Theory and No Angle provide easy points of entry. But I’d like to place the spotlight on the song that carries their band name. Sorry Darling is a contemporary twist on jangly power pop that is hook-filled, and simply delightful.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Twin Temple || God Is Dead

“Despite relentless death threats and moralising, our allegiance to Satan and the golden oldies remains unwavering. God Is Dead is our most blasphemous, horny and painstakingly period-correct work to date. Saturated with the blood of babies and forged in the ashes of burning churches, we spared no one in the making of this album. See you in Hell!” Well, that sure is one way to introduce your new record, Alexandra and Zachary James, aka the duo that makes up Twin Temple. On their second LP God Is Dead, Twin Temple sound like a throwback act build on Phil Spector’s Wall Of Sound, but also ’50s and ’60s rock’n’roll. If you love that sound, you will go crazy for Twin Temple. There is one caveat though, as hinted upon in the quote above: you must not mind occult references and explicit lyrics.

Elevate your next gathering with friends by putting on God Is Dead and introducing them to the captivating world of Twin Temple. Prepare for their curiosity to soar as they draw comparisons to the likes of Shannon And The Clams, Amy Winehouse, and Phil Spector. Brace yourself for the inevitable barrage of questions: “Did she really sing Be A Slut?” and “Are they really singing Let’s have a Satanic orgy?” Spoiler alert, the answer to both of these question is yes!

The Jameses describe their sound as Satanic Doo-Wop, and it sounds fine with me. God Is Dead is out now at Pentagrammaton Records.

Add to wantlist: Twin Temple || Discogs

New album: Black Mekon || NEAT!

Last Friday (the 13th), Birmingham, UK-based garage punk duo Black Mekon released their 13th album, NEAT!, named after their own fanzine. With this, the 2 masked brothers deliver 12 new songs that are as eclectic and surprising as they are growling  and swinging, but also sound better than their previous work, the result of an (unexpected) deviation from their strict ‘one-take-will-be-fine’ DIY ethos and the contribution of labelmate Lucern Raze as producer. They make forays into harmonica-fueled rhythm & blues, folk, films, and old school rap-rock including scratches and skits, and miraculously it (almost) all works. Another intriguing experience.

NEAT!, produced by Lucern Raze, is out now digitally and on vinyl LP through PNKSLM Recordings. There’s also a magazine with a CD.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || PNKSLM

New album: Connie Cunningham and the Creeps || Going, Going, Going Gone – The Rare Recordings of Connie Cunningham and The Creeps, Vol. 1

Method actors aren’t that uncommon (Joaquin Phoenix, Daniel Day-Lewis come to mind quickly), but what about method musicians? Here is one: Nick Kinsey, a veteran musician who played with the likes of Waxhatchee, Kevin Morby, AC Newman, Hand Habits, and Cold War Kids. For his latest project he took on the persona of “fictional weirdo and failed session musician” Connie Cunningham. It wasn’t just a way to escape writer’s block, it was a purposeful move to create something special, a way to satisfy his dream of stumbling, in his new farmland house, on lost recordings from some eccentric artist who’d previously lived there.

The approach pays dividends in full. Going, Going, Going Gone is a quirky record full of songs that are timeless, yet sound like they were recorded in the fifties or sixties, or perhaps even earlier. It all sounds dreamy and orchestral, like Tom Waits meets Sufjan Stevens, going from latin to beach boys, from jazz to girl group – How delightful are those backing vocals by The Creeps (Cassandra Jenkins and Annie Nero) on title track Going, Going, Going Gone? Nick Kinsey has created something magical with this project, something to dive into and wrap yourself around with. So much to unpack!

The Vol. 1 in the album title suggests that there are even more Cunningham treasures lying around in Kinsey’s attic. I can’t wait to find out.

Going, Going, Going Gone – The Rare Recordings of Connie Cunningham and The Creeps, Vol. 1 is out now on LP at Earth Libraries. Also involved in the recordings: Josh Kaufman, Mike Irwin, Oliver Hill, and Jared Samuel.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Earth Libraries

New album: Just Friends || Gusher

Throwing an eclectic party, leave that to Just Friends aka JF Crew. The sound Avijit Dey, Benjamin Cole Donlon, Brandon Downum, Brianda Estefania Goyos Leon, Kevin Andrew Prochnow, Matthew Yankovich and Samuel Jerome Kless accumulate together can’t really be pigeonholed. One thing’s for sure: the Californian besties will take you from one surprise to the next. Their new (fourth) album Gusher starts with some uplifting rap-rock tracks that wouldn’t have been out of place at the end of the 90s, but then they take off in all directions, with influences from groovy funk, alternative rock, tough hip hop, catchy pop punk, contemporary R&B and even candy-sweet pop mixed in an inimitable fashion. The combination of genres and vocal styles is as idiosyncratic as it gets, but it pays to let the full 43 minutes roll over you before deciding which two or three tunes to skip.

Gusher, produced by Brett Romnes, is out now digitally and on vinyl LP through Pure Noise Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Pure Noise

New EP: Hobby || Nombre Parfait

Hobby are a slacker indie rock outfit from Paris. Following their self-titled EP, Nombre Parfait (Perfect Number) is the band’s latest output. It was born out of accident rather than intent: Hobby was working on writing and recording a full length that for several reasons became a struggle. With the full length shelved indefinitely, Hobby turn the page with the Nombre Parfait EP, featuring 6 songs that were written in a short period of time and recorded mostly live. Judged on the spontaneity an creativity of these songs, it appears that Hobby have managed to revive the band and reinvent themselves.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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