Early on in 2020, I had expectations that Half Dream would really take Austin by storm with their Monster of Needing EP. I was fortunate enough to get an early taste of the EP, but like so many folks out there, this pandemic derailed releases plans and created a few barriers the band would have to overcome. Luckily, today is the day you can all hear the EP in its entirety, and if you’ll hang out for a second, I’ll break it down track by track for ya!
This is one of those weird weeks in Austin when it seems like everyone we love decided to drop some musical knowledge on us today. We’ve got some standard players like Stiletto Feels and the Zoltars dropping brand new records, plus a return to the fray for JP Pfertner, formerly of Built by Snow, and his new project Velcrowolf. Click on down to hear some fresh new tunes!
About a year ago we first caught wind of Gothenburg’s Fort Not with their hit single “I Guess;” they’ve been teasing us with a full LP for the better part of this year. Tomorrow, however, The Club is Open will officially be birthed into the world, but we’ve got a preview of the album courtesy of our friends over at Meritorio Records (who are releasing it!). If you skip ahead, you can catch my track by track breakdown of the entire LP; all 13 tracks! Of course, you can also just grab a copy for yourself right HERE!
Good things come to those who wait, and we’ve been waiting almost a decade for Exploding Flowers to return with the follow-up to their self-titled debut. “A Daunting Thought” hits you immediately, dropping in this charm that’s part nostalgic California sunpop and part dreamy psychedelia. I love moving on to the ramshackle ditty “Far, But Never Gone,” which would fit along with some of my favorite power-pop hits of the year thus far…and that only gets us to the third track. Other stand outs on a personal note would be “Mirror Mirror, Face to Face” and “My Poor Heart,” but to be completely fair, this might be one of the most complete pop releases I’ve heard this year…every song’s a winner. Seriously, if you have any pop tendeines, be they dream, psych, jangle, power, what have you…you will instantly fall in love here. Stumbling Blocks is out via the Beautiful Music on August 11th, but stream it all below.
I’m having to circle back on this new album from the Crystal Furs, as it slipped by my coverage when it initially dropped a few weeks ago. We were big supporters of the band when they were one of the few indiepop gems of Texas, and that’s not changing now that they’ve upped and moved off to Portland. Their new album Beautiful and True actually feels more like a nostalgic indiepop record, which for me is my favorite of the genre. You’re going to get these brimming melodies throughout each track, with the rhythm section tossing out this haphazard bounce while guitars churn those sharp jangles in your ears. I think my favorite standouts are “Hey Maxine,” “The Robber Barons of Lombard Street” and “Pretty Mind,” but we encourage you to get in on your own favorites. The LP was released in limited numbers via Subjangle, but is still available digitally.
Helsinki four-piece Love Sport are no stranger to these pages, particularly with their latest batch of rocking singles. But, today we’ve got more than singles, we’ve got the whole album for you to stream before it’s official release this Friday! While “The Biggest Liar in Town” introduces the record with the group’s own brand of alternative rock, they’re not here looking back to the good ol’ days, instead channeling a “vision of four friends playing music together.” My standout favorite was “Life’s a Joke” at the beginning; it kind of reminds me of the Men if they were to bring on more of a pop flavor. “Keying Cars” was a nice little twist too, tossing in this slow burning ballad that brims with pop sensibility. Walking away, “Giant Hoof” might also be my favorite jam…those guitars falling off the tracks, only to be reined in by the vocals! And Justice for All has a little something for everybody! Look for the record Friday via Soliti Music.
I reckon that Missoula, Montana isn’t on every one’s list of music hotbeds, but Anything Bagel Records has been pretty great at supporting the scene; they’re keep that push going with their latest release, the new LP from Fantasy Suite, One on One. The band is led by husband and wife duo Zoe and Lukas Phelan; they’re brandishing an affinity for classic country twang all mixed up with a little bit of that quirky pop you might have found around Athens. “False Reality” kicks things into gear with this sort of jingling guitar that opens up for a steady strum and Lukas’ vocals; I like this as the starter as there are some playful elements poking out that really set the scene for the whole LP. Zoe gets to take the lead on the following “Basketball,” which introduces a bit more of the band’s country ethos. It’s her next performance in “#1” that really won me over, bringing in a slow churning dreamier element with her vocals…you can hear just the faintest fragility in her voice too, creating that perfect intimacy between listener and performer. They mix in a slightly different vibe later on with “Take Time,” which might be the most traditional indie rock song, but the album’s latter half has a couple of numbers that recall the best of Beat Happening: you should listen to “Inside the Ring” and “Full Kitchen” to catch my drift there. From start to finish, One on One is endearing and diverse, guaranteeing you’ll have plenty to adore here; the album is out this Friday and you can grab it HERE!
I’ve spent the last week or so really digging deep into Pure Soul, the newest LP from John Steiner’s recording project as Boy Romeo. Every time I press play, I can’t help but wonder how some folks get big and famous, while others toil in obscurity. For me, this whole LP is a brilliant collection of pop songs; it should be a huge record, even as indie standards go. You can just take the singles to start. “Let’s Roll” has this surf-y swagger filled with hints of doo-wop and vocal layering that would make Brian Wilson smile. “Sophie” brings in a high-stepping jangle, meant to kick your heels up and have some fun, even with a sly hint at 80s club dance floors. But, a great LP needs a ballad, which you get in “Daydream” as the album draws near a close. That doesn’t even cover a song like “Pastels,” which could draw Steiner some Dent May comparisons, but here we have him going all in with a big horn solo added to the mix. Oh, and you need an art-y song too? Well, there’s “Waiting for My Call,” which stretches a solid pop number into a synth exploration. This LP has it all, and you can have it all too if you grab a copy from Z Tapes tomorrow when the album drops! Here it all below!
You might know Gabriel Bernini from his work in LuxDeluxe or as part of the Deer Tick team, but here, we’ve got a fresh listen to Gabe’s solo work, Sweeties! The entirety of the listen revolves around the balance between melody and rock n’ roll attitude. Take the lead single, “Caramel,” which employs some energetic riffage you’d find at the rock show, but it’s wrapped around this effortless melody that gives the song its cool. Bernini follows that up with the catchy rocker “White Room,” but skip ahead a few tracks and you find the secret joy of this record in “What You Want.” It’s a mellow number, really built entirely by the strength of the voice, with some light accompaniment via guitar and drums. It kind of sets you up for Side B of the LP, which to me, felt a little softer, but every bit as enjoyable; “Hold Up” was the charmer there for me. Sweeties is available this Friday via Dadstache Records!
For many of us, music is escapism. We wrap ourselves in our headphones and let go of everything around us. Perhaps no one is better at creating that sonic cocoon than Finnish outfit Cats of Transnistria, especially once you delve into the depths of Aligning. “Mountain High” opens things up, almost as an album itself, offering delicate touches and heavy notes to whet your appetite going forward. “Vampire” offers up the angelic beneath it’s brooding atmospherics, patiently bringing the vocals to rest atop. As you move into “Born Again,” a darker texture seeps in, though its still interrupted by the soaring vocal performance…if anything this only makes the song more haunting. In order to bring you out of that darkness, they offer up “Light” and “Wild Herbs,” sharing a natural warmth that provides the proper balance to the collection of songs; I think the latter is possibly my favorite track on this LP. The close of the album is much like the beginning, as “Aligning” seems very much like its own entity, book ending the listen with this exhilarating sonic exploration. If your one such listener looking for that other worldly experience, then grab Aligning from Soliti Music, out worldwide this Friday.