Joni Ekman is a prolific songsmith from Finland. With Joni Ekman & Koira, Ekman unabashedly churns out guitar-driven pubrock’n’roll hits that should appeal to fans of throwback acts like Giuda and Faz Waltz. It’s the band’s third full length. Expect cool guitar riffs, licks and fills, and songs that rock as hard as they are melodic. Iso Kolmonen is fully sung in the band’s native language, so if you’d like to know what these guys are singing about, you probably need a translator. But you should be fine enjoying these songs regardless. With Joni Ekman & Koira, it’s all about rockin’ out. Digitally for now, as the vinyl release has been delayed until mid October.
On their 1981 album A Minute To Pray A Second To Die, The Flesh Eaters sang about Divine Horsemen (“Their hearts are in the right place // Right in the palm of my hand”). After disbanding his band a few years later, Chris Desjardins (a.k.a. Chris D.) continued with Julie Christensen on a new punk / folk project, which took its name from this song. In 1988, after a few LPs, Divine Horsemen ceased to exist, but the two L.A. musicians remained in touch, and after 33 years (and The Flesh Eaters’ recent reunion) they now have even released a collection of all-new recordings. It was worth the wait. For their new full-length Hot Rise Of An Ice Cream Phoenix, the singers reunited with onetime Divine Horsemen guitarist Peter Andrus and bassist Robyn Jameson (he tragically died following a street assault, after which his spot was taken over by Bobby Permanent), and in addition drummer DJ Bonebrake (X) and keyboardist Doug Lacy were recruited. The record contains original songs, influenced by European folk, Spanish flamenco, and murder ballads, but also a number of covers, such as the beautiful track Any Day Now by Tim Lee and Susan Bauer Lee (Tim Lee 3), and 25th Floor by Patti Smith and Ivan Kral. This is fine fine folk rock, where the distinctive vocals form a fascinating combination, and the experienced musicians understand how to give a song power and emotion at the same time. RIYL Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Scientists, The Dream Syndicate, The Wave Pictures.
Hot Rise Of An Ice Cream Phoenix is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through In The Red Records.
Cromm Fallon is one of those prolific musicians who live for music. The Las Vegas based multi-instrument played in multiple bands – The Laissez Fairs, The Van Der Rohe, Double Whammys, Headwinds, … – and he’s also regularly behind the turntables as DJ Cromm. The tunes that he then blasts from the speakers – 60s garage, punk, and rock ‘n’ roll – clearly influence the songs he writes himself. However, his sophomore full-length album is more wide-ranging than that. For example, listen to the jangly power pop hit Closer Distance (the lyrics kick off strongly with “I’ve run out of words // So writing just makes sense”, and then the lines get even better), and the heavy noise of Taste., and you have a pretty good idea of what Fallon has to offer. Irresistible guitar riffs, sharply songwriting in which you can lose yourself, vocals full of dedication. You can expect something good from a gifted artist who lives for the music, but Fallon more than lives up to it.
Cromm Fallon Presents The P200 is out now digitally and on CD through Rum Bar Records.
Add to wantlist: Bandcamp
I was quite infatuated with Pist Idiots 2019 Ticker EP (how good is Roundhouse?!), and I am happy the band’s highly anticipated debut full length Idiocracy is finally here. And (spoiler!), the record instantly won me over. Idiocracy sounds like the logical next step for the band. Pist Idiots may sound more nuanced and polished on Idiocracy but they don’t give up any of the intangibles that worked on their previous material. Here’s a band that knows how to find the sweet spot between aggression and melody. Pist Idiot’s brand of indie rock’n’roll is gritty, vibrant and full of swagger, and even the lower paced songs (such as album standouts She Yells Jack, Juliette) feel alive and kicking. The choruses of the band, frequently accompanied with memorable lines (“She’s got a new haircut, I wonder if she’s got that old boyfriend”), hook their way in your brain.
Apparently, Pist Idiots are already quite popular in their home country (Australia). With the sheer power of Idiocracy, I can see their succes spread globally. Yeah, I need this in my collection, and hopefully affordable copies will soon turn up here in Europe.
Although NYC glamr’n’r outfit Big City started out in 2013, Big Kisses is only their first LP. So don’t feel bad when this is your first taste of the band, It’s mine too. That first taste is exquisite though. There is a sense of familiarity to the sound of Big City, and they seem to draw influences from all cardinal directions of ’70s rock ‘n’ roll. Artists that come to mind while listening to this LP include Bruce Springsteen, Thin Lizzy, New York Dolls, Todd Rundgren, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, David Bowie and Big Star. And yet, the songs on Big Kisses never sound redundant. Despite the somewhat lo-fi production, you can tell that this is a talented group of musicians: plenty of layers, plenty of dynamics and plenty of instruments. I’m really curious how the music of Big City translates to a live setting – likely even better.
Add to wantlist: Bandcamp
I usually do a wrap up of each month’s best hardcore releases, but with the summer break and all, I’m skipping it this month. But there is one hardcorepunk release I just had to share. It is the debut EP from Imploders, a new outfit from Toronto that has it origins in 2020 pandemic dread. Imploders’ self-titled EP is a 7-minute tornado of in your face adrenaline rush inducing 80s hardcorepunk. Fast and agressive, and with plenty of melody and cool breakdowns, I’m liking this a lot – and that was before I found out ATW favorite Sam Coffey mixed the EP. Limited to 500 singles, and with the colored variant already sold out, don’t sit on this one.
Add to wantlist: Bandcamp
To be honest, after listening to Sweet Crisis‘ full-length debut album Tricks On My Mind when it came out on a packed release day last month, I put it aside. It simply didn’t click with me enough to pay more attention to it, to add it to my want list, to write about it. For some reason the record blasted out of my speakers again this week, and now it did hit me. Strange how that works, but I think the band understands it, because their lyrics for standout track Ain’t Got Soul (video below) is consistent with this: “Rollin’ around, looking for the next big thing // Taking my time , to listen to everything // Then comes a new face, searching for a quick glimpse of fame // The radios drowned, playing the same old thing, over and over and over again.” I now realize that these new faces – Leo Robarts (vocals), Piers Mortimer (guitar), Matt Dudurym (bass), Dom Briggs-Fish (keyboards), and Joe Taylor (drums) – may soon no longer be able to go out on the street without sunglasses and a cap.
Sweet Crisis are a soulful blues rock band from the UK, with an “American” sound that is most reminiscent of the later own work of The Black Keys (also: a mix of Free, Donny Hathaway, and Led Zeppelin). They themselves cite classic rock and soul music of the 70’s as their main influences (they previously did a creditable cover version of Oh Well, in tribute to the late guitar legend Peter Green from Fleetwood Mac), but although they stay true to that quality, their energetic, powerful songs fit very well in 2021. Give it a listen, and if it doesn’t catch on right away, try again later.
“If it ain’t got soul, I don’t want to know, don’t want to know // If it ain’t got soul, I don’t want to know, I just don’t want to know”
Tricks On My Mind is out now on vinyl LP through Headline Records. Add to wantlist: Discogs
To finish the title of his new single, if Christopher Walkman had a band, he would write gorgeous indie pop songs with cool guitar work.
If I had A Band Part 2 is the latest single of Christopher Walkman, an Arnhem (Netherlands) based singer-songwriter who also plays in the more noiserock oriented band Jellephant. That band has a record coming up later this year, and Jellephant member Jelle Haagsma provides bass and drums on the new single of Walkman, further joint by Mischa Hager on guitar. If I Had A Band Part 2 is the follow up to 2017’s If I Had A Band. Walkman also released a full length last year but that is a solo effort that is specifically folk oriented. On the single, Walkman plays a clean version of scrappy indiepop that is uptempo and forward moving. Both songs are strong, but I particularly am taken by Oh No.
Add to wantlist: Bandcamp
At Add To Wantlist, we love to post about bands that fly under the radar. Raleigh (North Carolina) band The BQs are a good example. Their new record Tentatively Escaping immediately grabs my attention, and yet I can’t find any info on the band. I have to assume the band is named after its frontman and main songwriter Brian Quast. Here is another guess: The BQs are big fans of the fuzzy powerpop of Teenage Fanclub and the guitar magic of War On Drugs: The songs on Tentatively Escaping sound like a hybrid of both those acts, and it works surprisingly well. I know nothing about the BQs, but they deserve to be more than a blip on the radar.
Add to wantlist: Bandcamp
Now that I’ve finally watched High Fidelity, the American television series starring Zoë Kravitz, Jake Lacy, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, and David H. Holmes, I’m kind of addicted to Pains by Silk Rhodes. The standout song of the rich and varied soundtrack, featured in episode 9 and 10, comes from the first and only full-length album (self-titled, 2014) by producer Michael Collins and vocalist Sasha Desree. It’s cinematic soul with an early 70’s vibe, which once again proves how music can enhance images, and the other way around. RIYL The Delfonics, Bobby Oroza, Portishead.
“All things must change and remain // Growing pains”
Silk Rhodes is available digitally, on cassette, CD, and vinyl LP through Stones Throw.