New album: Juleah || Stoked On Planet Summer

Back at my laptop after a three-week vacation, I work my way through a huge pile of new music that came out during this period. The first great find, the fourth album by Austria’s one-woman band Juleah aka Julia H. (Julia Hummer), is aptly titled Stoked On Planet Summer. These are ten psychedelic pop songs, bright but atmospheric, with hints of surf rock and jangle pop. These are songs that will make you dream away to better places: “If life granted me a wish // I’d say // Stay forever like this // Forever like this.” These are songs with captivating melodies and shimmering guitars, with hooks and sounds that keep you on your toes while you laze around. This is a watercolor cocktail with flashy fruit for a bite. Thanks to Juleah I’m still holding on to my holiday feeling.

Out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Little Cloud Records (US) and Konkord (elsewhere).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Vacation || Existential Risks And Returns

It’s summer, and as you may have noticed, we will be posting less frequently this month. What better band to do a post about than Vacation? The Cincinatti (Ohio) indiepunkers have been quite prolific in the past, with their Southern Grass double album in 2017 as their most ambitious project, but their new album is their first in three years. Like on their previous records, expect a catchy and energetic blend of punkrock, powerpop, grunge and GBV-fi – the band self-describes as grit pop. I’ve always enjoyed this band’s records. One of Vacation’s strengths is that they know how to balance between more noisy experimental songs, and really infectious and hooky pop songs. Existential Risks And Returns is no exception. Stand out tracks for me are Colored By Numbers, Luminary Jerry, and Quantum Cafe, but from past experiences, I already predict that’s subject to change.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New album: The Umbrellas || The Umbrellas

It’s a good thing music is not a competition, because right now there is a staggering amount of frontrunners in the indie and jangle pop field. After a slow start to the year, we had top notch releases from bands like Massage, The Telephone Numbers, The Laughing Chimes, Quivers, Holiday Ghosts and many others. Add The Umbrellas to this list, because they just released a magnificent self-titled debut LP on the ever reliable Slumberland Records. Of all before mentioned bands, The Umbrellas arguably is the most twee. Fans of Sarah Records and bands like Comet Gain, Tullycraft and The Pastels likely will embrace The Umbrellas within ten seconds of album opener Lonely. Despite the dark undertones of the lyrics, this is feel good music. The Umbrellas’ music is made for summer, even when it’s raining.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: The Animal Steel || A Surefire Way To Get Sober

Here is an example of how the artwork drew me in, and the music made me stay. A Surefire Way To Get Sober may be The Animal Steel’s debut album, but its members have been playing music since the ’90s. Unburdened by a need to be cool – they are dads nowadays, the record is simply a product of true passion and love. From the first couple of songs it’s clear that approach pays off for the band. They play a heartfelt blue-collar kind of punkrock that incorporates elements of emocore (think Boysetsfire) and orgcore (somewehere between Iron Chic and The Ship Thieves). Good music, good artwork, nice vinyl color. There are worse, much worse ways to spend your money.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New album: The Onesies || Sub-Urbia I

When I use a word like eclectic or mention that I’m intrigued by a band’s sound, it usually means I like the music but I don’t really understand it nor have the words to explain it. Both terms apply to Sub-Urbia I, the new (first) album by Charlotte (Carolina) band The Onesies. The band plays an experimental form of sunshine and jangle pop. Their songs sound like they cut cool parts from different songs by different bands, put them in a blender, and pasted them back together in short songs – the album is only 18 minutes long. There are no clear endings to most of their songs and often it’s like they skip all introduction and start somewhere in the middle. The result is a sound that is within a triangle of The Byrds, Beach Boys and Guided By Voices. Yeah, I’d call this electic and I AM definitely intrigued!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New single: Dave Strong || Little Girl/I Would

Best known for his work in The Guts and as a contributor to releases by Palmer and Tommy And The Rockets and many others, here’s Dave Strong’s first solo single. And let me add DIY to solo: Strong basically did everything himself on this single, with his daughter Kyra on backing vocals. Both songs are very catchy and have a strong Leftovers/Kurt Baker vibe. Little Girl is a pop punk hit from the get-go, whereas flipside I Would is more restrained and classic powerpop oriented. It’s a strong first outing which make me curious about the next songs Strong will put out – He already has plans to follow up the single with an EP.

Remember how Geoff Palmer a couple of years ago was putting out a new song every couple of weeks just for fun? And how these songs ultimately culminated into his great solo debut Pulling Out All The Stops? I am kinda hoping his buddy Dave Strong will have a similar trajectory.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: The Lipschitz || Chevron

The Lipschitz are an artsy punk duo from Chicago. I assume both members have six arms and four legs, there is just so much going on their new album Chevron. The music is loud and hyperactive; the guitar riffs are as weird as they are cool; the back and forth singing is hypnotizing, and the start-stop dynamics are like an irregular heartbeat that keeps you on your toes. In less capable hands this would have been an unlistenable mess, but with The Lipschitz at the reigns it becomes a thrilling form of orchestrated chaos. Chevron is out now on Company Businesses Inc on A LOT of color variations.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New single: The Yolks || Take Your Time

KILLER single to start your week off right. The Yolks aka Kings Of Awesome aka Masters of Lo-fi Powerpop return with two new hits. A-side Take Your Time has a bubblegum and soul vibe that fits the band perfectly. The flipside (Tell Me Now) is classic The Yolks material, and sounds like a lost track by the Nerves. In one word: HITS!

Out now in a limited run on Randy Records with 16 different color variations of the sleeve.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Sonny & The Sunsets || New Day With New Possibilities

Every time garagepop band extraordinaire Sonny & The Sunsets release a new album is a good time in my book. One of the things I love about the band is that none of their albums sound the same, but you still identify them instantly as a Sonny & The Sunsets record. New Day With New Possibilities, the band’s eight album, is no exception, although it is sonically similar to Longtime Companion (2012). Sonny again goes full country, fueled by a stay in a free recording studio where, instead of painting, he read old western paperbacks, went on walks, and wrote country tunes about “being alone, songs about failed men, some dark tales of longing.”

The returns are maximal. New Day With Possibilities is a very strong collection of darkly comedic, sad countrypop. Country perfectly matches the smart wordplay of Sonny Smith, who needs few words to evoke powerful images and break you heart. Perhaps the best illustration of this is the opening line of Earl & His Girl : “His name is Earl // You can tell from his girl // That he likes to hit women.” Or what about Love Obsession, with lines like ” and “I’m on the board of depression // And I’m up for re-election.” Like I said, anytime Sonny releases new music is a good time.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Rocks In Your Head Records

Shorter, Faster, Louder || July Hardcore Wrap-up

Though the majority of my posts are punk and garage leaning, I also listen to music that push the boundaries and expectations of this blog. I am talking about music that is a bit more extreme in terms of length, speed, and loudness. It’s the kind of music that may scare or disturb some, or met with plain disinterest by others, but I believe are still worth checking out. Each month I wrap-up those releases in one post: Shorter, Faster, Louder.
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