New album: Radio Days || Rave On!

Power pop as power pop is meant to be. Perfect 3 minute guitar songs with Beatlesque melodies and vocal harmonies, songs reminiscent of Weezer or Teenage Fanclub, but more catchy. Here’s Rave On!, the fourth full length album by Italian trio Radio Days, a tribute to rock ‘n’ roll (the title refers to Buddy Holly). In a better world, standout track I Got a Love would be a hit everywhere. Hats off to Dario Persi (vocals / guitar), Mattia Baretta (bass / backing vocals), and Paco Orsi (drums / percussions).

Out now digitally, on CD (in Europe on Ammonia / Rock Indiana, in Japan on Wizzard In Vinyl, and in North America on Sounds Rad) and on vinyl LP (Screaming Apple Records).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New album: Robert Finley || Sharecropper’s Son

In my humble opinion, good music is all about emotion – you have to feel it. That’s probably why I don’t like electronic dance tracks. One person who knows how to convey emotion is 67-year-old American singer / songwriter Robert Finley, discovered – better late than never – thanks to America’s Got Talent. Oh man, his voice, so gritty, aged and heartfelt it almost hurts to listen to. On his third full-length soul & blues album Sharecropper’s Son, backed by experienced musicians and produced by Dan Auerbach, it’s sometimes a bit too much. You can hear the pain in Finley’s vocals, in the autobiographical lyrics about his life with cotton fields on the side and in the howling blues guitar, but at the same time it is very beautiful – majestic. Fortunately, when you see him smile and dance in the videos for his songs, it becomes clear that he really does enjoy his long-deserved success.

Out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Easy Eye Sound.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs || Easy Eye Sound

New album: Good Sleepy || everysinglelittlebit

The juxtaposition of band name and record label: coincidence or intentional? Not sure, but the debut full length of Massachusetts based Good Sleepy is indeed released by No Sleep Records. A similar contrast can be found in the music of Good Sleepy. It’s both full on pop and full on mathy emorock; it sounds both conventional and as a breath of fresh air, and although the songs are absolutely packed with suspense and variations in pace and dynamics while remaing parsimonious (only one song surpasses the three minute mark), none of the songs feel rushed. Together, these contradictions make everysinglelittlebit a marvel to listen to. It has that rare quality of a record that sounds like a grower, but offers immediate rewards. Out now on black with cream splatter vinyl (ltd to 300) and cream with black spatter vinyl (ltd to 200). This may sound eerily similar but in reality looks quite  different. Anyhow,  whatever variant you choose, No Sleep essentially guarantees a lack of buyer’s remorse with this one.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || No Sleep Records

New album: Holiday Ghosts || North Street Air

Any day Holiday Ghosts releases a new record is a good day in my book. North Street Air is the follow-up to West Bay Playroom (2019), and their self-titled debut (2017), both of which ended up high in my AOTY lists. What stands out first about North Street Air is the album cover, which unlike the multicolored previous record sleeves is limited to just red and blue. In terms of the music, the change is less explicit. It’s not a copy paste version of the first two records, but there is a progression in the band’s sound that feels natural rather than forced. North Street Air may have slightly more slower paced songs, but overall it has that same lo-fi ramshackle nature that is one of the charms of the music of Holiday Ghosts. There is a pureness, sense of joy and contagious energy to their indiepop, and it’s another one to skip the wantlist and go straight to the collection. Out now on Fat Cat Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Fat Cat Records

New album: Reigning Sound || A Little More Time with Reigning Sound

If I had to put together a top 10 of this century’s most acclaimed songwriters, Reigning Sound’s Greg Cartwright would be in it. If I had to put together a top 10 of my favorite albums of the last ten years, Reigning Sound’s Shattered would be in it (standout track Never Coming Home is one of the most beautiful songs ever). If I had to put together a top 10 of rockin’ covers of soul songs, Reigning Sound’s You Got Me Hummin’ would be in it (written by Isaac Hayes & David Porter, popularized by Sam & Dave). If I had to put together a top 10 of the most needed vinyl reissues, I would have to choose between Reigning Sound’s first two LPs.

As you can imagine, I’m a little excited about the release of this new record, A Little More Time with Reigning Sound, twelve new garage rock songs with a lot of soul, out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Merge Records. It’s dedicated to the memory of Norton Records’ Billy Miller. As you’ve probably already read elsewhere, the album is a reunion of “the original Memphis line-up”, in which Cartwright (vocals / guitars / percussion) plays together with Jeremy Scott (bass), Greg Roberson (drums), and Alex Greene (awesome on keyboards). Coco Hames came by for some additional vocals. The result is as good as expected, no more, but also no less than that. The 12 new songs again contain witty lyrics, which are sung sincerely and with an edge, the sound of the band is warm and intimate. We’ll have to wait a little more time before we know if the album ends up in the top 10 of the Music Year-End Lists of 2021.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Merge Records

New album: Love Supreme || Tuesday / Dinsdag

Love Supreme is what happens when four forty year olds in an existential crisis get together every Tuesday to share some laughs, food and fondness for 80s/90s punk rock and indie. Tuesday / Dinsdag (Dinsdag is Dutch for Tuesday) is recommended listening for people who dig Mission of Burma, Bob Mould, Replacements, and Dinosaur Jr – basically the majority of artists featured by Michael Azzerad in his classic book Our Band Could Be Your Life. Sounds Haarlem (a Dutch record store) will release the record on white vinyl in September. Until then, you can stream the record on Bandcamp. And while you’re there, make sure to also check their 2019 record Poetry For The Youth. There are worse, much worse ways to spend your Tuesday evenings, I promise.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Sounds Haarlem

New single: Huntingtons || Judy

In the late nineties, The Huntingtons released High School Rock, which is still one of my favorite ramonescore records from that era, and which is pretty hard to find – I am still rooting for a reissue on vinyl. Around that time, the band also released a record full of perfectly executed Ramones covers called File Under Ramones. It was a major step up from the previous Ramones cover album they did: their 1996 redo of Rocket to Russia which they dubbed Rocket to Ramonia and was, well not exactly perfectly executed but fun nonetheless. Fast forward 25 years, Burn Toast Vinyl owner Scott Hatch approached the band to rerecord the album for a 25th anniversary edition. Reluctantly, the band agreed and went in the studio for a couple of days after just one rehearsal, only to be pleasantly surprised by the result. I am less surprised, as these guys probably could play any Ramones song in their sleep. Anyhow, they just released the first song on a single, and make me excited for the full album. The flipside is another cover, but from The Riverdales. Both songs are about Judy, you probably know them already. Back To Ramonia is out this summer (probably August) on Burnt Toast Vinyl and Sexy Baby Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Sexy Baby Records

New EP: Thank The Bus Driver || Where We Droppin, Boys?

Despite the subtitle ‘A fortnite folkpunk album,’ you don’t actually have to be a fan of the video game, or folkpunk for that matter, to appreciate the new EP of Seattle band Thank The Bus Driver. The songs on Where We Droppin, Boys? are semi-acoustic and though there are some folky elements they also have anthemic gang vocals and the dynamicism and lyricism to appeal to fans of emo, and altpop. I’m pretty sure the band members listen to a lot of Weakerthans, Modern Baseball and Mountain Goats while playing video games. Watch them sing along to their own songs and play fortnite here.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New single: Star Circus || Just Like in a Movie

Star Circus is a five-piece from London that makes music that sounds like 70’s hard rock and 80’s power pop at the same time. With new (dgital) single Just Like In a Movie their founder Dave Winkler (Annabella’s Bow Wow-Wow, Ryan Hamilton, Love & Bullets, Renegade Playboys) wrote a hit, There’s not only the characteristic screeching guitars and harmonic vocals, but also Sophie Aurelia Young’s piano playing and a great guest sax solo by Liza Bec (a jazzy intermezzo after 2:35, very nice), making it far above average.

“Everything will be alright // Just like in a movie”

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New single: Geoff Palmer || Many More Drugs

Few records brought me as much joy in 2019 as Geoff Palmer’s Pulling Out All The Stops. Palmer (The Guts, The Nobodys, The Queers, The Connection, New Trocaderos, Kurt Baker Band) writes insanely catchy tunes with self-deprecating and sarcastic lyrics. It’s a combination I lack the defense mechanisms for. This week, he announced that his new album will be released this summer. It is called Charts And Graphs, has ten songs on it and will be released on LP (Stardumb Records), CD (Rum Bar Records) and  Cassette (Memorable But Not Honorable).

The first song of the LP builds on his previous work. Many More Drugs is crazy contagious and tells the story of a young Geoff Palmer trying to find the record of a song he loved. That song was the punk classic Manny, Moe & Jack by the Dickies, but Palmer misinterpreted the lyrics to be Many More Drugs.  It’s classic Geoff Palmer, and I love how he actually integrated the chorus of the original into this song. I asked everyone that I know  || What’s that song, the one that goes ||  Many more drugs.” Did Geoff Palmer actually create a new subgenre here: Re-imagined songs inspired by misheard lyrics?

In anticipation of the upcoming record, Stardumb will release Many More Drugs May 21st, with two exclusive songs on the flipside. Order the single here. Watch the video featuring his buddies Zach Sprague (als member in Palmer’s excellent new side-project KEWPID  and Kurt Baker below.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Stardumb Records

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