There aren’t a whole lot of artists that I think are universally revered, but I know that Jeffrey Lewis has long been one such musician, at least in the circles I run about. He’s a wordsmith at heart with this dry sense of self-deprecating (for mankind) humor, with some similarities to the likes of John Darnielle mentioned often. His new album will be handled under the name of Jeffrey Lewis & the Voltage; the Voltage seems apt as there’s definitely some sonic oomph added to this first single; Lewis’ role is much as it’s always been, all the way down to his deliver, but that energetic blast is an interesting twist…or at least one I never noticed before for some reason. Lewis has found himself a US home for the release of Bad Wiring, dropping on November 1st via Don Giovanni.
Great pop rock comes few and far between, but it definitely seems like a lot of it has been coming from Mal Blum in the last few months, building anticipation for the release of Pity Boy. It’s a pretty classic formula with verse chorus verse etc, but dammit if this chorus won’t get stuck in your head all day long; I love the infectiousness that begs for a sing-a-long in the live set. The subject matter seems deals with the narrator feeling invisible, which could relate to Mal Blum or not; I’m sure we’ve all felt that way at times, unfortunately. Jus another reason to connect to Pity Boy; it drops Friday via Don Giovanni.
A few weeks ago Mal Blum released “I Don’t Want To;” it was a pretty insatiable pop number, but that’s not what you’re going to get on this new track. This one is more of a slow burner, building the tension with careful percussion and an almost muted guitar throughout. At the 3:30 mark the tension is finally released with a noisy crash of guitars and pounding drums, but as quickly as it appears, it recedes, slowly grinding the track to a close. Lyrically, it’s not overly verbose, using simplicity to tie in the greater life choices the protagonist has to make through the entirety of the song/record. Look for Pity Boy on July 12th via Don Giovanni.
It seems Don Giovanni has their finger on some of the most energetic pop rock out there; they brought me Bad Moves and now they’re giving us a new LP from Mal Blum, which sounds pretty awesome so far. Lyrically this song seems to be about personal acceptance, on the surface that deals with saying no when you “don’t want to.” Somehow the song seems to operate on deeper levels, but the catchy hooks seem to disguise this behind anthemic delivery and huge pop riffs. I love that serious issues are being woven into the exhilaration of a good pop rock tune; you can think and be deep, yet still have a ball. Look for Pity Boy on July 12th.
Don Giovanni has pretty reliable tastes, and it looks like the label has secured another success story, today announcing the debut LP from Weakened Friends. Founding member, Sonia Surino has this incredibly distinctive voice; it almost seems like a nervous tick, almost something primal and uncontrollable. This lends itself well to the band, as you can feel the passion in her delivery, often times culminating in the crashing of cymbals and distortion. There’s a little polish after the minute and a half mark, giving a nostalgic nod to 90s college radio classics. Look for Common Blah to drop on October 19th.
Out of the ashes of Joanna Gruesome rises the phoenix, and that phoenix is Ex-Void. They spend the first minute rocking like they picked up exactly where they left off, blending heavier guitar tendencies with pop sensibility. But, once they hit that minute, the group lets the poppier aspect take residence in the tune. The chorus is definitely a winner, featuring matching female/male harmonies and twinkling guitar chords. This track is the lead number off their new S/T single, aiming for release on May 11th via Don Giovanni.
Light Beams came to my attention because of the participation of Justin Moyer, who plays in one of my favorite current acts, Puff Pieces. I’m even more intrigued because the apparent use of samples is all done sans laptops and click tracks…just operated by drum pads. It does give this single a slightly jittery vibe, but that seems to give off the vibe that this might be the natural progression left off since Q and Not U’s Power. Like the perfect blend between dance music and post punk…dance punk done right, if you will. Look for their self-title debut via Don Giovanni on September 22nd.
I’m obviously a huge fan of guitar pop, especially when the distorted guitars sound warmer rather than heavy. This new track from Kissing Is a Crime does just that, almost creating a pop wall of atmospherics with the guitar work. The vocals fit in perfectly, delivered almost as gasps of breath, patient with their delivery. Light little touches of synth add further texture to the song, leaving this one as a great indiepop entry for the masses. Look for their self-titled LP on March 24th via Don Giovanni.