I remember sitting in my dorm room in the late 90s listening to an Elf Power record when “Loverboy’s Demise” came on; there was something about it that had this lo-fi pop sensibility that just felt like home; it felt like that’s where I belonged. Why does that matter some 20 years later? Well, few bands have matched that feeling…and still fewer songs…that is until I found this American Culture track in the old inbox. It’s dirty, like it needs a good scrub, but the core is so catchy and leaves me coming back time and time again to find that same feeling. If you’re looking for your musical home, then perhaps you’d be best served by ordering the new For My Animals, which drops on March 19th via HHBTM.
Fresh off selling their soul on E-Bay, Swansea Sound return with another solid single to add to your collection of pop music. They’ve always got great messaging, and here they seem to be calling to arms all the indie labels to unite! I’m on board! Musically, you can’t really argue with the back and forth between Hue and Amelia; how does Amelia’s voice sound so timeless and pristine? Put all that sugary melody together with the bop of Rob and Ian, and the band have another certified hit on their hand. This tune appears on the group’s new 7″, dropping on March 12th via Skep Wax and HHBTM!
It’s been a great year or two for the history of Athens’ music scene, with reissues for Pylon and Love Tractor; now we can add Oh Ok to the mix too…they’ve just announced a reissue of the Complete Reissue (the Complet-ist Reissue perhaps?!). The band is made up of Linda Hopper (Magnapop) and Lynda Stipe (yes, Michael’s sister), whilst also featuring Matthew Sweet at times in later line-ups. This short introduction should have you lacing up your shoes and readying your pogo-moves; the rhythm section matching every twist and turn of the vocals. Quick and catchy, you’ll find this tune on the LP when it drops on January 29th courtesy of HHBTM.
One thing we remembered – and re-lived – in 2020 was the spirit of indie DIY. We wrote songs, recorded them at home, took our own pictures, made our own videos. So we decided it was about time to start a label. The first physical releases on Skep Wax will come out next spring. We will be co-releasing the next Swansea Sound single with US label HHBTM and Japanese label Formosa Punk, and we will co-release the new Catenary Wires songs with US label Shelflife. Its great to be working alongside these other labels. We always loved the idea of the International Pop Underground, and in 2021 we hope to breathe new life into it. If we discover we are any good at running a label, we will start thinking about releasing other bands music on the label. Very excited about this!
You can see all the work at Skep Wax Bandcamp.
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It’s been a really big year for all things old school Athens. First, there was that Pylon box set, and then came the Love Tractor reissue of their 1982 self-titled debut. We reached out to Mike Richmond to throw a few questions his way, and in return he offered to share his recipe for Veggie Breakfast with Sausage. If you love what you hear, you can grab the LP in various formats from HHBTM (who graciously helped us get in touch with Mike!).
There’s a long story behind the upcoming release of Danieled Auntlord: The Daniel Johnston Covers Tape. Back in 2007, Daniel Johnston played the legendary Athens Popfest, going down as one of the most unforgettable moments in the festival’s history. Jump into 2016, and the festival, curated by Mike Turner of HHBTM, was welcoming Daniel back as one of the headliners, but in order to do so, they had to fashion him a live backing band. Mike and his team gathered Jesse from Antlered Auntlord as well as Jake and Marie from Eureka California; they recorded a tape covering Daniel’s songs and sent it to Johnston so he could prepare. But, here we are now in a year that could use some guiding light, so HHBTM has decided to release those recordings via cassette on December 5th, rounding out the year reminiscing about one of the world’s greatest artists. Here’s the Danieled Auntlord version of “Casper.”
Tomorrow is the next installment of Record Store Day, and while not always a fan of RSD, it’s definitely important to support every single indie record store to help keep them all afloat. Plus, you get to find some gems that you might not otherwise have had on your radar, like the 60 Degrees & Sunny/FESTI-Vals 7″ from legendary Athens outfit Love Tractor. If you’ve listened to their debut self-titled LP from 1982, these songs should be familiar, but they’ve been reworked with help from members of REM/Sugar/Glands, so you get a fresh sound. The new reworking offers you a nice visual accompaniment featuring various weather phenomena. What I love is that it gives you an early glimpse at post rock, before it became boring; actually, check that, this is like instrumental music for Flying Nun fans; it was cool before they were cool…you’re going to have it on repeat all day. The 7″ comes out tomorrow via HHBTM, with an expanded reissue of the full-length on November 6th.
Last year Athens rapper Wesdaruler released Ocean Drive via our friends over at HHBTM, which was my first introduction the songwriter. Now, going into July 4th, he and a few friends have written this “Fuck Trump America” anthem, and considering the state of the world its required listening. The lyrical content seems spot on for those that I hope frequent this site, but we can’t rest on our laurels; I spent several days driving through small-town Texas and believe me that Trump enthusiasm is still very real and very dangerous. Personally, I love Linqua Franca‘s verse on this track; she has this way of hitting syllables in the bounce that just make things so effortless. She’s also got a podcast with Dopeknife, who raps on the verse too; you can hear them at Waiting on Reparations.
I really wish folks would look overseas as of late when thinking of great pop rock. Sure, we’ve got tons of great stuff over in the States, but the UK is on a hot streak of hit making, particularly with Suggested Friends. Their latest single cuts all the bullshit and gimmicks often employed, instead just giving you the hooks right on top with these huge belting vocals and crunchy guitars ringing out in the background. The latter moments even employ a bit of a stomp to gather up all that joy and tie it up in a nice pop bow for your ears. Turtle Taxi is one hell of a record, so sample this tune and grab the LP before its October 4th release date from Fika Recordings/HHBTM.
It would be super easy to lump Suggested Friends with the rest of the great pop-punk coming out of the UK, and while there are 100% definite similarities, the title track from the band’s new LP seems to offer glimpses at a larger sound. They adhere to an affinity for anthemic licks and vocal hooks, but things seem spun around a more pop-centric vibe rather than the punk side of things; the mood after the 1 minute mark has me reminiscing about Allo Darlin. Ultimately, the band have just crafted these gems that are singalong worthy and infectious as ever, so you’re likely to have these tunes stuck in your head all day long. Turtle Taxi drops in October via Fika Recordings and HHBTM!