With their 2017 album Colors, El Lago won us over with their elegant take on dream pop; it sounded refined and grown-up, something those with a sensible pop palate couldn’t pull away from. But, from the moment you press play on the Pyramid EP, you meet an entirely different beast. “Citadel” announces itself with this guitar squall ripping through the front of the mix, allowing Lauren to dance in with a spritely vocal delivery; she’ll add a softer touch reminiscent of the band’s early work during the song’s chorus. “Endless” has this sharpness to it, though you can’t turn your ear away from the dark texture lurking beneath the surface. “Moths,” to me, represent the band’s greatest musical leap; the structure and off-kilter rhythm almost craft this sort of angular post-punk spun through an arthouse lens; it’s the sort of tune that leads you down a path of reflection. “Pyramid” comes in to sort of remind you of where the band’s been, nostalgically looking back upon Colors. “Solo” is another of the calmer tunes, but in being such, it really highlights the power of Lauren’s voice; I feel like that’s something I took for granted, but this whole EP is full of remarkable moment after moment. It’s even set up perfectly, heavy and strong at the beginning, full of artistic flare and bold moments, but it narrows its focus on the band’s pop sensibility as it nears the final number, closing out with a nice 46 second instrumental at the apex. Please don’t skip this EP; its out Friday via Wallflower Records.
It’s Friday, and people are all about those streams, but I want you to be all about those pop songs; the kind that instinctively make you swoon, like the entire LP from Ultim Cavall. I’ve given you a few of these tunes already, and I know that the non-English lyrical content is a bit of a stretch…but dammit if these songs don’t just you want to learn new languages. The entirety of Alaska walks this line between bouncy indiepop and the dreamiest of dream pop numbers. “Els Ilacs” is a jam and a half, but I’ve really grown partial to the title track, “Alaska.” Just ten solid pop tracks to make your life infinitely better. Out now on Discos de Kirlian.
Admittedly, I was all in with the reemergence of psych rock that came with things like Levitation and the like. But, after a few years, it got kind of boring; it felt like everyone was recycling the same bits and pieces, and I just grew weary of listening to the same song over and over. Fast forward to now, and there’s this new LP from the Flower Graves. It was presented to me as two halves of an LP; sure, there are song breaks, but the presentation really let me immerse myself within the album’s confines…which is how I fell in love with it. You can find the stereotypical psych tropes, like fuzzed out riffs and smokey guitar noodling, but peak beneath the songs and you’ll find this striking pop sensibility. “Living in Disguise,” for instance, definitely employs a stronger sense of melody than one typically finds, leaning almost towards dreamy pop realms. I’m partial to Side B’s “Plastic Orange;” it feels like a pop hot air balloon just slowly descends atop the whole LP, which, in turn, sets you up for the heavy riffs of “Night Byrd.” The whole Living in Disguise LP is a journey, but one easily worth your time today; the album drops Friday via Wallflower Records.
Not too long ago, I just casually dropped a new tune from Brooklyn’s the Holy Tunics, in hopes that it would build some anticipation for their latest album, Hit Parade Lemonade Supersonic Spree. Well, tomorrow Meritorio Records will drop the entire thing, so we wanted to give you a sneak preview of what was laying in wait for you. Grab the album HERE, stream below…and jump July Tour Dates for random Nathan thoughts on each track.
Joel Nicholson’s been working as Butcher the Bar for some time, and in that period, he’s gone from solo to full band and probably back again…but for III, we get the full band pop bombast that’s always lived within the confines of Nicholson’s songwriting. There are straight upbeat pop numbers, and some more pensive tunes here, so just stream it below. You can grab the LP directly from Bobo Integral, and if you’re so inclined, you can read my thoughts about each song below.
Listening through the entirety of Onesie has made me feel comfortable and safe; it’s like a warm blanket of nostalgia wrapped tightly around my ears. Umpteenth is as scatter-brained as Leos Consume, their last LP, but you can easily follow the power-pop bread crumbs from the get-go. Opener “Ten Times Tinnitus” has hints of that Big Star sound, though as it carries on, it also starts to lend itself over to Jets to Brazil territory, which inevitably sets you up for the more Jawbreaker-ish follow-up track “Customers;” this one’s slightly heavier on the riffs, but still adheres to pop sensibility. Skipping down to ”
Would You Be My Goon,” you get a glimpse of the landscape created by acts like Teenage Fanclub, with riffs muted slightly in favor of layered vocal harmonies. And, all that diversity comes before the band hit the sweet spot with “Awards Show” in the album’s latter half…it’s the pop rock number you didn’t know you needed. All this is just to say you could feel good too; you too can smile while you rock, but you can only do so by picking up Umpteenth, the new LP from Onesie, out this Friday courtesy of Dadstache Records.
My friend Wally at The Beautiful Music recently turned me onto James Clarke Five, as he knew that I’m a sucker for a good pop tunes of any sort. Apparently James Clarke aka Jimmy Hughes has been banging around since the 1980s with The Cherry Boys, but he’s recently been bopping about with his own work. It’s interesting, at times he’s got one hell of an operatic voice, as is apparent in “Married;” it lends itself to that sort of broad pop from classic groups like the Zombies. Though there’s an obvious nostalgia, many of the tracks on Parlour Sounds are so wonderful they fit right along side the various pop LPs in your collection; I mean, check out the move at the 40 second mark in album closer, “Just a Smile.” Indulge in this LP, then thank me and TBM later.
In quiet circles around the Internet, folks are on the edge of their seats waiting to hear the new Monnone Alone LP; the former Lucksmiths guitarist is held in high regard, and Summer of the Mosquito largely lives up to those expectations. The record is fill with mostly sunny numbers, apt for an LP with such a title…though you might find a melancholy tune hanging about. Regardless…people will fawn over this for some time, so I wanted you to be one of the first to hear it all the way through. Stream it or Buy it from these folks: Lost and Lonesome (Australia), Meritorio (Spain), Emotional Response (US), and Royal Mint (Finland). For an added bonus…you can click after the jump and read my thoughts on each track!
One of our favorite labels at the moment, among the many is Forged Artifacts; they just announced that they’ll be jumping back into the vinyl game by reissuing Stunner by Scrunchies…an album they tossed out on cassette last year. It’s a collection of 9 powerful pop rockers, some toying with pop sensibility while others have a touch more abrasiveness driving the record. I know that “Stunner” is the obvious hit, but I’ve always been partial to “Double Vision;” I just love that bass line opening things up. Take a listen to the whole of the album, then grab a copy from FA right away!
We’ve been operating the label here now for half a dozen years, and each year, I’m forever grateful to the bands that let me put myself behind their music. And for years, I’ve fawned over She Sir, one of Austin’s most underrated acts; I bugged them enough until they finally agreed to let me release their new Ways a Season EP. You can grab a copy of the limited orange vinyl HERE, but I also wanted you to be able to stream the EP with a little bit of commentary by yours truly. There are not enough words to say how proud I am of the label and this release, so please go down and listen to everything below.
Austin folks can catch the band at End of an Ear on March 31st for a free in-store performance.