I’ve been listening to Fred Thomas for almost two decades in some fashion or another, and while I always appreciated his work in Saturday Looks Good to Me (and His Name is Alive), his growth under his own name has been pretty spectacular. His 2017 album, Changer, might just be one of my favorite pop records of the last 10 years. Today we get the first listen to new stuff from the forthcoming Aftering. I love how the piano works just behind the trickling piano, laying the groundwork for a crashing guitar that delivers an emphatic pop punch to the face. His voice helps land the track in the vein of Nada Surf, especially with the way he polishes off syllables with melody. The new LP is out on September 14th via Polyvinyl, surely looking down at the rest of those pop imitators.
I feel like The Goon Sax should be one of the great bands of our age, yet they still have so much potential to grow. On their latest single, they’re taking their angular pop stylings and turning painting them with a broader pop brush. There’s an accent from the cowbell to add some step, but the chorus has swelling strings and horns blasting through. It’s enchanting, yet cautiously energetic; you’ll have this song running through your head all day. The band’s new album We’re Not Talking will be out on September 14th via Wichita Recordings.
Nacho Cano has had a hard time of late, spending the better part of a year recovering from an accident where he was hit by a drunk driver. In that, he’s changed the direction of his work as Harmless, focusing on how isolated he’s been, both personally and culturally in the United States. Seems fairly grim, and understandably, but this video still brings a smile to my face every time I play it; I especially love the smooth moves of the man in the beige suit. Musically, it’s definitely an understated slow jam, one that’s perfect for late summer night’s of slow dancing. His latest EP, A Donde Te Vas, will drop later this Fall.
Let’s get niceties out of the way; pleased to meet you, Frontperson. Wait! This band is Kathryn Calder and Mark Andrew Hamilton from Woodpigeon forging out as a unit? And Stereogum premiered their video over Kanye news!? Honestly, I’m just being a dick, but I really like this track. Even though the band features Kathryn from New Pornos, the tune seems to have this early Broken Social Scene feel…maybe it’s that underlying groove during the verses…regardless, it gives the song that hook. I also think Calder’s voice has this delicate sharpness that contrasts perfectly with Hamilton’s. Together the two will release Frontrunner on Oscar St. Records.
If you’re looking for a new pop group to get into, you needn’t look beyond The Skating Party…especially now that they’ve got a brand new LP ready to rock for you. The album’s lead single has a dreamy quality to it, at least in the way the vocals were recorded…but the details are where it’s at. I like the hi-hat work and the cascading guitar line in the distance; it’s dream pop, yet it seems to have some looped jazz qualities. It’s adventurous pop music for those willing to step out on a limb; you can grab Been Caught Feeling from Hidden Gem Records now!
Up until this point, Bodega have given us some great arty-punk stylings, catchy and thought provoking. But, destined to be more than a one-trick pony, the group are sharing their most straightforward pop song just before the album gets dropped. This song is Ben’s homage to a friend he lost back in 2007, and you can hear the lasting impact Charlie had on him…if you’ve lost someone in your own life, you can immediately relate to the lyrical content, as if it was ripped from your own journal. It’s good to see the softer side of the group, a sign that you can still be surprised by the New York outfit. Endless Scroll drops this Friday via What’s Your Rupture.
I’m really impressed by the sounds coming out of the Ophelias camp in lieu of their next LP. Their latest shared composition is a wondrous take on modern indie rock aesthetics. Of course, I’m drawn into the way the intonation is changed in each syllable of the vocals, not to mention the way voices seem layered upon one another. But, the power of the vocals wouldn’t be as strong if it weren’t for the surrounding accompaniment; the swelling string works adds great depth. Almost everything seems like its running in a huge loop, as if the band were listening to tons of early trip-hop and decided to spin it in their own direction. They release Almost via Joyful Noise on July 13th.
What!? Another band from Melbourne, Australia that rules? This time the band is The Shifters, and they’ve just announced they’ll be releasing their debut LP via Trouble in Mind Records. Our first listen has this rad bouncing rhythm line with matching guitar cuts jangling to keep the pace; it strangely grips you and never lets go. The subject matter, and accompanying video, seem to be taking a knock on a very ordinary life…which is weird because I’m working now, and then going to the gym…are these guys mocking me!? Doesn’t matter, the song is precisely what’s made the group a hot item; they release Have a Cunning Plan on September 21st.
Another day and another post related to Slumberland Records…what can you say…the labels so hot right now. Today we’ve got the latest video from newly adored Smokescreens, who are prepping Used to Yesterday for a July release. This track is a dedicated ode to the band’s New Zealand influences, where you can hear the guitars working against each other in unison to craft a melody that seeps over into the vocals. I love some of the gang vocals on this track; they’re recorded in such a way as you can barely decipher between one voice, uniting the band as a singular pop entity. The song rules, the band rules (and they’ll be touring throughout August, so be on the lookout!).
It’s time I take my adoration of indiepop sounds all over the world, this time visiting Japanese outfit Jan Flu. The video itself seems to immediately draw from American tropes such as the skateboarding along the beachfront or other images associated with Cali. Musically, there’s this driving bounce from the group, heightened by the crisp angular guitar lines that encircle your ears. The vocals have this deep tonal quality, which also works in contrast to the sharp tones of the guitars; this juxtaposition is the one that encourages you to twirl about with your arms flailing. This song appears on the groups debut album, After Image, which comes out on July 11th.