Jonathan Wilson shared a new video for his track, “Me,” yesterday and announced a string of tour dates in support of his most recent release, Rare Birds, which came out on Bella Union not too long ago. The track is a soft rock gem, but a deeply contemplative one at that–Wilson thinks over his place in the universe while also lamenting overthinking about himself. He finds himself in dirt holes and then staring into the sun, while the track starts to really take off. About three minutes in, you get this break from the build and everything explodes. Even the video switches from bleak shots to psychedelic, animated visuals. I’m shocked I missed out talking about this record before it was released, but better late than never, right? You can pick up your copy here.
There’s something about Chase DeMaster’s writing for Get a Life that seems built for the every-man. It’s accessible and hook-laden, crafted with just enough flare of indifference to make the cool kids swoon. It probably doesn’t hurt that Yuuki Matthews (Shins) handled the production for the recording; it’s clear that there’s a sense of layered pop sensibility, particularly in the way vocals are trapped on top of one another. Of course, no great pop song is complete with out its ability to relate to the listener, so just spend time listening to all the people telling Chase to get a job in this song. You’ll know exactly how he feels, which likely means we’ll all find ourselves relating to the hooks and lyrics from the band’s new album, Our Band Could Be Your Life, out next February.
Yesterday I compiled a huge list of traditional indiepop, my own Best of 2018 for the genre. In there, I exclaimed how I was really digging into Indonesian indiepop scene, but apparently I hadn’t dug deep enough because a friend pointed me towards Grrl Gang. In circling back, it seems that there’s a huge gap in my coverage that needs to be filled; this band is so so good. The opening tune, “Love Song” on the band’s Not Sad, Not Fulfilled EP is jumping, fueled by a steady beat and delicious vocal harmonies. For me, the winner of the five tracks is the forlorn feel of “Night Terrors;” lightly twinkling guitars, subdued vocals made me an immediate convert. The band are currently giving these songs away, so do them a favor and throw them a dollar or two so they can write more; do that HERE.
I feel like Murray Lightburn and the Dears never got the praise they deserved. For me, I’ve always loved him, even more so when he climbed into the crowd at the Parish many years ago to belt out notes midsong. Here, on Murray’s latest single from his forthcoming solo work, we get the gentle side of Lightburn; he has this angelic way of hanging notes out there in the air, letting them sort of quiver at the tip of his tongue. And, of course, it’s a Murray production, so he’s surrounded himself with these gentle and lush arrangements that only accentuate the magic of his voice. His new album, Hear Me Out, will be released by Dangerbird Records on February 22nd.
In case you didn’t notice our earlier Best of Indiepop, we’re huge Fanclub fans over at ATH, which says a lot considering the band’s a pretty fresh face on the Austin scene. But, those who loved Letting Up Despite Great Faults complete understand where we’re coming from, don’t you? If you’re new to the band, just let the synth lines that open this track pulse through your speaker; they hit heavy, almost forcing a nice foot-stomping dance move. Of course, the perfect dose of pop sensibility is a blend of the light jangling guitars matched with singer Leslie’s softly curled vocal notes. I love how the beat hits hard at the end, fighting Leslie for your attention; it’s beautifully cacophonous. The band will be dropping their debut All the Same EP this coming January via Friendly Reminder, so if you’re ready to start a fanclub for Fanclub, you just let me know!
Everyone has their own definition of indiepop; but I tend to ascribe to the original craft where DIY aesthetics and a softer response to punk were all the rage. But, to each their own. So I went through last year to compile what I think is a pretty all encompassing Best of Indiepop 2018; there’s no order, just a collection of really great indiepop. Some of the below are songs, some are albums, some are just bands or labels that were important. Click on for my picks and a playful playlist. Read more
Harms is the solo project from Brooklyn based songwriter Jake Harms who previously spent a majority of his time in indie band What Moon Things. To be honest, I am not super familiar with Jake’s work in his primary band, though my extreme love of his new solo EP will likely turn me on to all his work. The new EP, entitled Aquarium, is a loaded 6 song short player with highly emotional vocals and Gothic pop themes. In particular, lead single “Pop Song” is definitely one of my favorites of the year and has already reached 10 plays on my iTunes. Something about the unique and totally transparent songwriting, paired with the slick beats, has me putting this on the “highly recommended” list.
Aquarium is out now on Good Eye Records.
Looking towards 2019, this Pedro the Lion album is high on my list of anticipated releases. We get a new single today, and while I love the noisier elements in the background, I’m really struck by the vocal tones. It’s every bit David B., but he’s really pushing his limits to the highest part of his register. I can’t help but to recall American Football or something off Jade Tree when I listen to this track, and that’s not a knock by any means. Just another step in the glorious evolution that is Bazaan; look for Phoenix to drop on January 18th via Polyvinyl. There’s never a bad day when you get a fresh Pedro tune, especially full-band Pedro.
We haven’t heard from Chris Cohen since 2016’s As If Apart, so I’m scrambling to reabsorb all those old songs from his first two LPs. Today we’ve got a brand new single from Chris, and what a special gem it is. It walks that fine line between NPR-core (the indie rock your dad thinks is cool) and artfully branded pop music. It’s got a nice little sax solo that adds texture to the track, wrapping itself around Cohen’s mellowed vocal tones. The percussive element gives the track a jazz club vibe…and while I’m laughing in my head at the inclusion of the instrumentation, it’s what makes Chris’ work so intriguing; he captures this curmudgeon with his songwriting like so few ever do. Let’s hope there’s more to come from Chris in 2019.
I’ve always appreciated Angelo de Augustine‘s music, but there’s something particularly perfect about this song dropping at this time of year, with Winter whipping at your windows. The recording has this whisper, as if his voice is muffled so as not to wake the neighbors in the sharing of his innermost secrets. Headphones will reveal this bubbling pulse beneath the entirety of the mix, as well as the occasional piano backbone, but in all honesty, the gentle strum of the guitar along with Augustine’s voice is all that’s required. His new album Tomb will be out on January 18th via Asthmatic Kitty.