My friend Wally at The Beautiful Music recently turned me onto James Clarke Five, as he knew that I’m a sucker for a good pop tunes of any sort. Apparently James Clarke aka Jimmy Hughes has been banging around since the 1980s with The Cherry Boys, but he’s recently been bopping about with his own work. It’s interesting, at times he’s got one hell of an operatic voice, as is apparent in “Married;” it lends itself to that sort of broad pop from classic groups like the Zombies. Though there’s an obvious nostalgia, many of the tracks on Parlour Sounds are so wonderful they fit right along side the various pop LPs in your collection; I mean, check out the move at the 40 second mark in album closer, “Just a Smile.” Indulge in this LP, then thank me and TBM later.
We’re not too far off from the release of the latest Lust for Youth LP, and with that, the (now) duo have dropped another teaser track. I think this is their most playful and earnest tune; they clearly deliver their pop sensibility in the first few seconds, but they don’t just drop in and let that hook hit you over the head, instead teasing it out after the 1:15 mark. Even then, it’s brief and exuberant, hitting upon that sensation of yearning. Somehow this tune seems more sterile, revolving more on the tones of the vocals, which is a nice little twist in the album (or so I hope). Sacred Bones drop Lust for Youth on June 7th.
When Ultimate Painting abruptly disbanded, I wondered what would come of Jack Cooper. He’d released stuff with Mazes, as well as his own solo stuff, so we knew he’d be okay…though how okay I didn’t know…until now. His new project is titled Modern Nature, a joint venture with Will Young (Beak>, Moon Gangs). Our first listen is a majestic construction piece of slow-core, filled with layers that build upon one another as the song inches its way forward. Tickling guitar lines are aided by great cymbal work and the heavy softness of the vocals; the song moves forward and some horns and electronic flourishes begin to bubble from beneath the surface. This is absolutely gorgeous, and not at all what I would have expected, so I’m all the better for it. How to Live will be put on August 23rd via Bella Union.
Pretty sure this brand-spanking new album from Michigan’s Blue Jeans might just be the best pop record no one’s told you about just yet. That’s okay, though; I’m here to help you out with that by giving you a little chance to stream Adult Hits before it drops on Friday courtesy of Bobo Integral. It’s ten infectious numbers that could easily stand alone in your favorite playlist (with a huge helping hand from Fred Thomas in the studio and on the art), but work perfectly when tied in together. Here’s the stream, but hit the jump for my random track breakdown.
There’s something really special in the songwriting of Swim Team; there’s this ability to adhere to all the flourishes of indiepop, yet at the same time, sound wholly Australian. There’s a sweetness in the first half of “Are You Into Me,” that eventually subsides as the track pushes further forward, taking a turn just around 1.5 minute mark. The lyrical content here ties right into the title, but it feels even more personal for some reason. This is just a light-hearted way to start your day I reckon, so keep an eye out for Home Time on July 12th via Hysterical Records.
A few years ago I claimed RVG the best band at SXSW; it was a year that acts like Shame, RBCF and Stella Donnelly really broke big…but for me, it was RVG. Romy Vager’s performances were nothing short of mesmerizing, fulfilling all my expectations having spent hours going through A Quality of Mercy. For me, that’s what I hear when I hear “Alexandra;” I hear the live performance, the passion in Vager’s voice. There’s this swelling in the song, a slight bit subdued, but I can picture the band unleashing that sonic blast in my face…and as my mind drifts I fall in love with this tune. This track is slated to appear on the group’s next album, and they’ve got a few N. American tour dates planned for June too (no Austin date, sadly).
Seablite aren’t strangers to this site, but it had been a minute since we’d heard the name until our friend pointed out that their new album is now up for pre-order! And, it’s possible I’ve completely missed this, but there’s this bubbling pop number that comes with that announcement. Opening up with those ringing jangle guitars is a sure-fire way to catch my attention, especially when the rhythm section kicks in a toe-tapping bounce. Vocals are hitting just the right note, aided by these delighting backing notes, purifying the harmony. Some fuzz kicks in around the 2 minute mark, just in case you weren’t aware of the band’s ability to rock…which I’m pretty sure ties into the album title, Grass Stains and Novocaine…you can get down and dirty and still be really sweet; it’s out June 7th via Emotional Response.
A few EPs under their belt, and it sounds like Lofi Legs are set to drop their debut LP, Lamb. Our first listen is this lovable ditty that combines the playful with swelling harmonies mixed between real-life partners Maria and Paris. Aside from this slowly sidewinding guitar and recording fuzz, there’s really nothing else, yet that’s the magic the group share; they’re able to captivate listeners such as myself just relying upon simplicity and purity of melody. There’s this natural sense of longing, or perhaps yearning, that pervades the tune; one can only hope to enjoy the love penned on this number.
I owe a big thanks to Kingfisher Bluez for shining a little light on David Ivan Neil; I didn’t know much about the Canadian songwriter, but I’ve now gone down a wormhole of his various tracks/albums since 2014 (it’s a brief but deep catalog). Today, I’m sharing his new tune from the forthcoming What Is Love LP, which will be put out by KB on June 1st. I’m drawn to the distinctive voice of Neil, as well as the simplicity of his lyrics here. He gets a nice counterpoint when Kristin Witko joins him on the number, allowing the listener just the slightest plot twist. Those of you loving stripped down songwriters, this is definitely up your alley.
One of the great things about the wealth of information at our fingertips, to me, has to be the discovery of acts long ago forgotten. And Upset the Rhythm, having already reissued More Wealth Than Money have opted to follow up that album by re-issuing What’s Going On, the 1984 album from Normil Hawaiians. This track, like the album, is just this sonic exploration pulled off in post punk fashion. It begins with what almost sounds like looped tapes, something we’re all familiar with by now…just before the guitar begins to ring through your speakers in that angular stomp. Vocalist Guy Smith enters the frame, wailing on the high (and is that a whistle?); it’s working in complete contrast with the propulsive rhythm section, yet it’s all tied tightly together. Later bits of the song get these little stabbing riffs cutting through the vibe, and then bam, we’re done. This is an intoxicating introduction to a group I knew little about.