Two artists I’ve been writing about since we up and started this old blog are Stanley Brinks and Wave Pictures. Stanley’s done his own thing, worked with Freshcard…and always circles back it seems to work with the Wave Pictures. Together they write these pop songs that are playful, yet illustrated the musicianship of everyone involved, such as the title track from their new album, Tequila Island. It draws inspiration from folk influences, and then transports them to island lifestyles…maybe they got this all written down in Cabo? If Jimmy Buffet had a fraction of cool, he’d probably sound like this batch. Tequila Island is out on June 21st via Fika Recordings.
By now, if you’re one of the 8 people reading these pages, you know how much I’ve been looking forward to hearing the entirety of There’s No Fight We Can’t Both Win, the new LP from Mammoth Penguins. Today’s the day that it drops, giving us further insight into the band’s return to a slimmed down 3 piece (after the John Doe release). While there are some definite pop rocking numbers, my early time with the LP has me falling for “There is So Much More;” it’s a really soft tune, giving the album some diversity so it doesn’t wear on you…not to mention there’s no such thing as a bad Kupa performance. If you love your pop music, you’ll love this album, so go grab it from Fika Recordings, or stream it below!
After sharing the humorous sincerity of “But I’m a Top,” the Ballet return today with the other side of the coin, pulling back on the humor just a wee bit. The story here seems to be the anxiety of worrying about whether you love someone too much, and that feeling that things might not be reciprocated. The hooks are still in there, starring these light little keyboard notes maneuvering in and out behind that dancing guitar line. Sure Greg Goldberg has stylistic similarities to Stephin Merritt, but there’s this softness to his voice, a fragility that makes him feel just a touch more open and approachable. This is the second single from Matchy Matchy, out on May 17th via Fika Recordings.
I think if Mammoth Penguins had the US press behind them, they would be able to win over every indie rock fan with a penchant for pop sensibility; they remind me of my own top rated bands like Bad Moves, Weakened Friends or a louder Rosie Tucker. The riffs in their latest single are heavy and sharp; there’s a few moments when they have this jagged stutter that added an extra layer of hook during the verses while the rhythm section intoxicates you in their own spot-on fashion. Plus, at the helm is one of the most powerfully distinctive voices from Emma Kupa; I think this is my favorite performance from her in the three singles we’ve heard so far, especially with the playful “oohs.” So, who needs the US press…I know this band rules and I’m stoked to hear the entirety of There’s No Fight We Can’t Both Win, out on Fika Recordings on April 26th.
Maybe this is the year that The Ballet jumps onto everyone’s radar, and if not, I’ll at least be here to cover their latest release, Matchy Matchy. It’s the duo’s newest album, and their are obvious comparisons to the likes of Jens Lekman or Magnetic Fields, especially in the literary wit that comes with the songwriting…maybe even the self-deprecation of Stephin Merritt. There’s a little bit of kitsch to this track, which, in my opinion, means that everyone will find a piece of this track to latch onto, whether that be in the instrumentation or the song’s subject matter. Matchy Matchy will hit on May 17th via Fika Recordings.
My Mammoth Penguins fandom knows no bounds, but that’s only emboldened when the group unleash great tracks. They’ve slimmed back down to a three piece after releasing the ambitious John Doe LP; this seems to have given them this boundless energy that bleeds through your speakers. Emma definitely has a spectacular vocal performance on this new number; her voice is given lots of space to soar atop the instrumentation, driving home the lyrical content. And, as much credit as I want to give Kupa here, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how spot on the rhythm section is on this track; the drumming alone is standout work…driving the track forward. There’s No Fight We Can’t Both Win will be out April 26th via Fika Recordings.
I’ve really enjoyed the early listens from We Show Up on Radar; they’ve been vibrant and clever, but this new track gives us a slightly different viewpoint of the artist. This track is all about the storytelling, all about the map being made in hopes that Erin will come home. The arrangements behind the voice, from the horns to the gently strummed guitars adds this forlorn emotional vibe…that is until the synth lines in the final thirty seconds, giving us a bit of upbeat promise as the song fades to black. Zanzibar Whip Coral, the album on which this song appears, drops on March 22nd via Fika Recordings.
The last time we heard from Mammoth Penguins was back in 2017 when they were bringing in their friends to help complete their concept album, John Doe. Today we have the band narrowed back down to a three piece, fronted by Emma Kupa, with a new LP on the way via Fika Recordings. It all kicks off with fuzzy guitar riffs opening the scene for Emma to jump in with her voice; her lyrical content is one of infatuation/love and a willingness to “fuck it all, fuck it all” in the name of love. But, what’s interesting to me, is the way the song winds down, ever so slightly for a musical interlude to flex musicianship, just before bouncing back into the swing of things emphatically. There’s No Fight We Can’t Both Win will be out April 26th.
I’m really stuck on We Show Up On Radar, especially as the singles from the forthcoming Zanzibar Whip Coral continue to roll out. There are times when I hear bits of Flaming Lips in what Andy Wright is doing; it sounds like he’s throwing every sound into the mix, yet still capturing pop sensibility. Other times, the song gets more simple, just Wright’s voice and minimal instrumentation; even simpler it still some of the most uplifting pop I’ve heard going down this week. The entire album will finally be released on March 22nd via Fika Recordings, bringing us another great pop opus.
I seem to be continuously charmed by the Smittens, and here we are again with another brilliant pop song to adore. It’s got a steady cadence, filled in with wonderful harmonies between various members of the group; the group stretch out the song in the latter half, allowing for a more thought provoking element to the tune. That makes sense, as Dana says he penned the number as ‘a coming out/transition anthem,’ encouraging us to all ‘find the spaces in which we belong.’ City Rock Dove will be out via Fika Recordings on August 3rd.