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.
If you read these pages, you surely know of my affection for really light indiepop gems built around wonderful melodies that stick to your soul. Today, Norway’s Simen Mitlid drops his Neutral LP, and this track is definitely one of the album’s spotlight tunes. Our journey together begins with this soft gallop and carfeul strum that work with Mitlid’s mellow vocal delivery. Then things pick up, albeit ever so slightly so as not to detract from the core of the song. Bits of tinkering fill in the empty space, leaving the listener with this joyous swell that makes the whole world better. The LP is out today in the world, so go forth and enjoy.
The Lost Ships are following up their Best Laid Plans EP with the brand new All of the Pieces EP. They brandish the sort of indiepop that walks that fine line with power-pop, infusing their jangling guitar chords this round with a little bit more volume up front. The first two tracks off this EP are just that, swelling with warm melody wrapped around the slightest jangling notes. But, “How Can I Face the World” has a little bit more punch than one might have initially have expected; it’s almost a full-fledged rock song…albeit one spun in the vein of pop fans like myself. Of course, they back that up with the gentle ballad “Sheila Believe Me” to close things out, which is this striking ballad atop a thick piano background. Their new EP is being handled by the taste makers at Subjangle.
Remember when you bought that first Pains of Being Pure at Heart LP and you couldn’t tell whether you wanted to rock out or just start your own twee pop band? Well, now you’ve got A Certain Smile to help emulate that very mood, brandishing their own short buzzy pop number. This one’s like a sweet little sampler of indiepop, over in just over 2 minutes, with the band’s current label Jigsaw Records claiming its the best indiepop single you’ll hear this year. That’s super high praise, but to be fair, the band currently includes the owner of the label…but it definitely is high up there on my list. I’ll say top 10. What do you think? The whole Bae EP is out next week on September 20th, with a full LP to follow soon after.
It’s been a hot minute since Katie Malco has released any new music, but perhaps her recent touring exploits in the UK with Julien Baker got her back in the saddle. She’s just dropped this new tune and signed with 6131 Records for forthcoming releases. This tune’s got a heavy hand to it, with these huge riffs backing up Malco’s voice; she manages to offer up a gentle delivery atop the strong guitar lines, pulling in the perfect contrast. Just before the 2 minute mark, the track recedes a little bit, bringing in the a quieter moment to the tune. This is a really great return, and my fingers are crossed that this only hints at a great LP in the super near future.
Those of you paying attention to the musical underground will surely have heard rumors of the participants in Unhappy Fly; you’ve got Xentos Bentos and Richard Dudanski (heavyweights!) joined by Sarah Washington and John Glyn (not the astronaut!). Today they announce a brand new realm for powerhouse label, Emotional Response, and what a gem. It has this pastoral semi-folk opening for the first few minutes…then things get switched to this swirling indiepop ball of energy…and back and forth we go. That’s all before we get to John Glyn’s sax solo to space the song out and give your ear a little break from the delectable ear treats. But, don’t sweat it, they bounce back in with one last chorus to charm you before closing the tune down. Brilliant pop with a flare of artistry; the self-titled LP will be out on September 27th.
There’s all sorts of beautiful nostalgia in every little note being crafted by Mike Naideau for his Alibi project; I think of bands like Arab Strap, Bedhead and a slew of bands on early Saddle Creek. Of course, this sound is one that’s quite personal, one that sometimes is best experienced in the quiet of your bedroom. That’s an interesting experience, as it almost feels like Mike’s recorded this tune in that very manner, layering vocals to build in some fragile intimacy. In that, it feels like Naideau is celebrating life’s little imperfections, all the way down to the ambient soundbites that fill in some of the song’s negative space in the song’s latter half. Then the song returns to round things off with these half-hearted drum rolls and softened vocal notes before fading into the ether. This song has all the feels; it’ll be included on his new record Become Your One, out on Epifo Music later this Fall.
I don’t know how many of you are paying attention, but if you’re not listening to Benjamin Woods and his project, The Golden Dregs, then you really are missing out on something special. The last single from the forthcoming Hope is for the Hopeless has him channeling something darkly beautiful, something along the lines of Cohen or Cave…and its not just the baritone speaking. My favorite line comes around 2:30: “and the Jesus on the dashboard is shaking/cause he knows there’s no way home.” But, this isn’t all clever word play and idealistic homage, there’s some incredible craftsmanship, particularly in the way the tinkering piano moves into the more prominent performance just after the 3 minute mark. The LP is out on September 27th and you’ll be sorry you don’t have it, if that happens to be the case.
Jonathan Bree has been on my radar for several years at this point, but I feel like he’s finally starting to get a name going for himself over here in the States. He was top of my list of last year’s SXSW performances, for both sound and the spectacle of the performance itself. This video offers a precise glimpse at what listeners will get when they catch Jonathan on his first official North American tour; it’s an orchestral pop song performed by a band without a face (the band has no face), which certainly grabs your attention in the live setting. He’ll be in Austin for Levitation, but will spend much of October and November throughout the continent, so if he comes near you, I assure you that won’t want to miss this.
Sasha Bell has a remarkable resume; she’s been a key part of Ladybug Transistor, Essex Green and The Sixth Great Lake…and now she’s stepping out on her own with Love is Alright. There are definitely some musical elements that will sound familiar; the first thing that stuck out to me was the dreaminess of the guitars churning in the background, combining that sparkling jangle with crisp notes that ring out in step with her vocals. I was really drawn to the space the song allowed around the 2 minute mark, allowing some air to sort of breathe into the song, giving off this celestial quality you won’t forget. Of course, the power of Bell’s vocals can mesmerize you as well; I love the way certain notes get curled from emphatic delivery to understated elegance at the end of syllables. Quite a start to a solo career; Love Is Alright will be out November 8th via Both Sides Now.