Down here in Austin, our friends over at Keeled Scales have been raving about the incredible songwriting prowess of Katy Kirby, and today…lets hope the world is listening. She announces Cool Dry Place with this incredible video for “Traffic,” a song dedicated to a former partner who seemed determined to revel in his own trials rather than realize that “nobody has it better than you.” Her sound, perhaps influenced by her childhood singing in church definitely has a pop bent to it, though you can hear her pulling away from those tendencies. Honestly, take the work of my favorite Rosie Tucker and maybe sprinkle a little sugar on top; it’s got this great playful vocal that’s highly rewarding. You can grab the debut LP (it’s a Vincy Vaughn reference right?) on February 19th from Keeled Scales.
One of the great musical surprises of this year has been the debut release from Finnish duo Rules. An entire album of carefully crafted pop music spun around literary characters favored by Iti and Sarra; this time around their latest video pays homage to Katherine Mansfield’s “The Daughters of the Late Colonel.” One of the reasons I love this tune is that it introduces a harsher element to some of the record’s shinier moments. Sure, there’s still a nice electronic brush atop it, but the song is all about the perfect balance and execution, shining through at the 2:44 mark as the song hits that euphoric finale. If you dig what you hear, the album is available now via Soliti Music.
What do you do if your dad played drums in the Cure? Well, if you’re Gray Tolhurst, you start your Topographies and drench your sound in those nostalgic atmospheric notes and circling angular guitar licks. I love how this has that old school feel to it also, allowing for plenty of space to come into the song; it brings the melody to the forefront, giving the song and the listener breathing room. Sometimes I just feel like we’re beaten over the head with hooks, so its nice that it’s not pushed all the way down my throat from the get-go. It’s a solid tune from a promising band who will drop their debut Ideal Form in December!
Tugboat Captain were slated to come to Austin this year for SXSW, and while we all know how that ended up, I’m still really intrigued by the band’s offering. They tricked me here, offering up this almost post-punk guitar for just about 11 seconds. But, then the song swells, as you’d expect from a band specializing in sweeping pop stylings. While the beginning seems calm and traditional in presentation, they get a little bounce and a little sonic explosion of exquisite noise too…that sort of texturing makes the song all the more memorable after you’ve reached the 4:18 mark. This tune appears on Rut, the band’s debut dropping this October.
First, I’m really really into what Finnish outfit Rules are doing at the moment. They’re crafting these undeniably catch pop tunes, built around heavy synth work and melodic vocals you can’t hide from. Sure, tons of folks are doing that at the moment, says you, but none quite so convincing at this duo. Plus, through their work, they’re also utilizing their love for literature and literary storytelling alike. This single is based upon the Raymond Carver short story “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love;” so, as a person dabbling in the teaching of English, I’m always drawn to those who utilize literature in their own storytelling. They will be releasing their debut album on August 21st via Soliti.
I remember the first time I saw Tim Koh on stage with Ariel Pink; he was this towering guitar wizard of hair that you couldn’t pull your eyes away from. He’s currently relocated to Europe, and now it seems he’s got his now solo album coming on the horizon courtesy of O’ Genesis Recordings. His creativity and musicianship is obvious in the song’s first minute, but then he settles into this propulsive vibe that seems to course through the song’s entirety. There’s a lyrical reference to his stomach ulcer, which resulted in emergency hospitalization while on tour in 2018, so perhaps this album’s been a long time coming. Whatever happens, a debut solo record from Tim is going to be something really special.
In 2019, Australian outfit Haiku Hands brought their choreographed dance party to our shores during SXSW (RIP); I know we were all impressed, and anxiously awaiting news of an LP. Well, that news dropped yesterday, and the band remind me a lot of CSS in a lot of ways. For one, they have these satisfying dance club hits that always seem to get stuck in your head; this is music for people that want to enjoy living. Two, they work as a collective, curating and exploring art amongst their members. I have a feeling this song would be huge had it dropped in different circumstances, but lets hope it brings you all a little joy. Their debut drops in August via Mad Decent.
With singles dating all the way back to the mid-80s, it’s hard to believe that this year will mark the debut LP for Bristol outfit The Flatmates. They drop this new single today with the announcement of their self-titled album, and like the band, it seems to straddle decades of style in its sound. Opening with buzzsaw guitars and smashing drums it almost feels like they’re working in Ramones territory, but that’s before singer Lisa Bouvier comes into the picture. She’s got this voice that seems like its riding the edge of pop singer and punk; there’s a softness coated in a definite attitude that’s simply intoxicating. Their debut is being handled by HHBTM Records and The Subway Organization.
Having been some three years since I last heard from Seattle based Tincho, I was excited when they sent me some new music a few days ago. The new song, “I Got Home Today”, features a fairly straightforward tack on indie rock with chill guitars, quiet vocals, and a nicely executed progression. Think Beach Fossils if some of that washed out, shoegaze effect was lost and replaced with a cleaner, bright sound. It’s good stuff.
Tincho will be releasing a debut album sometime later this year. Stay tuned.
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If there’s one thing last year’s SXSW showed us it was that Stella Donnelly has a bright career in front of her. She could hold a room on her own with her presence, but more important was her biting wit. She’s not afraid to call people out in song, but she doesn’t do it in a fashion one would find laborious. In her first single from her debut, she’s calling out men and their inappropriate behavior; I appreciate how she approaches her views through a certain pop sensibility, stuck in your head all day and forcing you to listen to what she has to say. Beware of the Dogs will be out on March 8th via Secretly Canadian.