Best Friend already has one EP under their belt for 2017, so why not bookend the year with another great collection of pop tunes? This is a short number, with quick percussive work pacing the track while careful little synth lines dance about. Vocals come in like puffs of smoke, just faintly floating in the distant mix. It’s an interesting take, a combination of dream pop and dancey club rhythms. Of course, if someone’s putting out great music, you’d expect Beko Disques to be involved; they’ll release ZZZZAP on November 28th.
Beko Disques are probably one of my favorite labels at the moment, quietly going about releasing excellence with little to no need for playing the game. They just dropped this delightful Best Friend track to announce the forthcoming LP for the group. You’ll find the vocals sitting back in the distance on this number, almost as if they’re fading away as you put your ear next to your speaker. Dreamy jangles seep out from the guitars, with some tight little drum rolls to fill out the vibe. The release is scheduled to drop come November, so keep your eyes peeled.
As the year winds down a bit, music is getting sparse…new music anyways. But, the folks over at Oddbox Records still have one great release up their sleeve: The Bellamys EP. Discordant guitars ring while the drums rhythmically push the track forward; the vocals are dominated by a female vocalist…until the later moments of the song where a male voice enters as the counterpoint. While it’s a quick track, the sound sits with you, giving it the impression of being seemingly longer. The EP is being released on a limited run of cassettes on December 2nd, so hurry and grab one before they’re gone forever.
This song hits right at the heart of my favorite genre, indiepop. You’ve got a bubbling bass line, reverb coated vocals and just hints of jangling shoegaze. It’s one of those uplifting tracks that’s made Best Friend such an enticing listen, and I like that he adds just a few seconds of something different beforethe 3minutemark to kind of get another gear in the mix. Can You Believe It is the title of the group’s debut album, which will see a Halloween release via Gezellig Records.
Kid Wave are on the cusp of releasing their first full-length record, and from the sound of the singles they’ve been putting out, including the one below, you don’t wanna miss out on this London act. “Best Friend” has Kid Wave at their best: slacker indie rock that’s just laid back enough to seem easy, but when you listen closely, you’ll hear the level of nuance that this band of youths bring to that genre. The deep set vocals of Lea Emmery are paired nicely with some cutting electric guitar, which follow each other through the song. Wonderlust is out June 1st via Heavenly Recordings.
This new tune from O. Chapman drifted my way over the weekend, and it fit in completely with the dreary weather Austin encountered, including that ridiculous hail storm on Saturday night. Still, a great track succeeds despite the weather, and I think you’ll hear something you’ll love when listening to this tune. There’s a slow pace to the tune, allowing the band to really establish a vibe that sinks you into your chair, or your soul. I like how there’s some little vocal samples hiding just beneath the track too…it’s a weird effect that definitely benefits the song. It’s part of the Art is Hard limited hand-cut 7″ series, so you’ve got to scramble to get one of the 25 available copies…otherwise just enjoy this tune.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/O.-Chapman-Best-Friend.mp3]
Download: O. Chapman – Best Friend [MP3]
Hearing that Dent May had ditched his ukulele, I was a little bit scared about his newest release for Paw Tracks, Do Things. But, the more I listen to this album, the more I realized that it’s less about his instrument, and more about his voice; it’s still very affecting, which makes listening to the whole record just as enjoyable as his first.
It all starts off with a bouncy number, “Rent Money,” propelled forward by synthetic sounds, yet Dent’s croon is strong as we’ve heard it. He’s got a memorable voice, but his control over that instrument is what makes his songs so special–here he sings about the trials of trying to earn a living, in a manner that only May can. “Fun” follows, with a similar focus of backing pieces, but this is perhaps my favorite performance of his on Do Things. Each verse sees the rise and fall of the pitch in the vocals, which in an odd way reminds me of Stephin Merritt‘s distinctive voice.
By the time you get to the single, “Best Friend,” you might begin to find yourself a bit disappointed, as the songwriting begins to get a little to familiar. It’s filled with hooks, just like the rest of the tracks that come before it, but there’s nothing extraordinary about the construction of the accompanying beats, leading Dent May down a path of pop redundancy. There’s traces of differentiation coming in and out of the record, but they don’t do enough to push the record beyond the stage of mediocrity.
“Find Out” opens with a slight guitar riff, but by the time vocals and percussion mix, it’s fading into the background to stay. These are the sorts of things that you wish May would have messed with in the final mix of Do Things, adding something special to the formula that would give more emphasis to the tracks. I mean, “Wedding Day” has a nice jagged guitar line cutting through it too, and I quite like the song, despite its rather mundane electronic sampling. I wonder what would happen if he just turned that guitar up a little bit (you don’t always have to go to 11). It would seem that what needs to happen is to get Dent some musicians who can join in the fun of his quirky songs. They’re good, they’re enjoyable, but in the end they’re ultimately not too memorable.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t say how much I adore Dent May and his songwriting, even with some of the knocks I’ve taken on Do Things. I give him credit for stepping outside the comfortable realm, but perhaps a bit more time would have really benefited the record. It’s fun and easily listenable, but does have a tendency to go into the background too easily…that’s not how we knew him on his first run. Let’s chalk it up to a bit of the sophomore slump, and hope he gets back on track the next go round…based on these songs, he’s really not too far off.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/04-Best-Friend.mp3]
Download:Dent May – Best Friend [MP3]