New EP: The Pre-Amps || Four by Four

Nowadays, some music is still made as in the good old days, as is once again underlined by UK four-piece The Pre-Amps. The 1960s-influenced pop / rock band made some name for themselves by covering their heroes (The Box Tops’ The Letter, The Beatles’ Nowhere Man, The Beach Boys’ Sloop John B, and so on), but are now also writing their own songs. At the end of 2019 they released their debut single Doesn’t Change, followed by Hard To Say b/w With My Baby in early 2021, and those tracks are now bundled together with new tune Learn To Love You on the EP Four by Four. Robert William Gray (bass), Scott Charlton (drums), Lyndon William Philliskirk (keyboards), and Kelvin Banks (guitar / harmonium) can all call themselves songwriter and singer, and here they show that perfect jangle pop songs with captivating melodies and great vocal harmonies are still being created these days. We look forward to a full-length album with more of these gems.

Four by Four is out now digitally, and next week also on 7″EP, through Spanish label Hurrah! Música.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: I Feel Fine || The Cold In Every Shelter

If you sound as classic emo as this, a paradoxal band name can feel strangely comforting. But perhaps I Feel Fine is just a statement to discourage further interrogation – we’ve all been there in the past 18 months. Anyhow, Brighton (UK) based I Feel Fine’s debut full-length The Cold In Every Shelter is a generous release. This is not a throwaway collection of songs that were quickly recorded over the weekend. No, here is a band that clearly spend a lot of time refining their songs, adding elements and cool instrumentation. It makes for a record that reveals new parts to enjoy with each listen.

Admittedly, I dismissed the record after a quick first scan, but fortunately my fellow ATW blogger Dennis made me revisit the record. The Cold In Every Shelter is the kind of record where the rewards depend on the time and attention you are willing to spend on it. And once you do, you cherish the escapism it provides. The cathartic group vocals obviously stand out (not all vocals on the record are the full band singing their hearts out, yet it does feel that way), and the tasteful instrumentation provide such a tasteful backdrop. The Cold In Every Shelter is a soothing record that prepares you for the colder, wetter and darker seasons. And, dare I say it, you don’t need to be into emo to enjoy this record. RIYL: The World Is Beautiful And I Am Not Afraid To Die, The Hotelier, Hostage Calm. Oh, and make sure to watch I Feel Fine’s video for Selfsame, it may be the best looking video I’ve seen all year.

The Cold In Every Shelter is out now through Venn Records (UK), Smithsfoodgroup DIY (Netherlands), Friend Of Mine (Japan), Pundonor Records (Spain), Refresh Records (United States), Midsummer Records (Germany), and K-Nardage Asso (France).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Joni Ekman & Koira || Iso Kolmonen

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.

Add to wantlist: Recordshop X || Swamp Music

New album: Divine Horsemen || Hot Rise Of An Ice Cream Phoenix

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.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs || In The Red

New album: Cromm Fallon || Presents The P200

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

New album: Pist Idiots || Idiocracy

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.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New album: Big City || Big Kisses

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

New EP: Imploders || Imploders

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

New album: Sweet Crisis || Tricks On My Mind

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

New single: Christopher Walkman || If I Had A Band Part 2

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

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